Proofreading and Editing are often neglected, but they are the crucial final stages of the writing process. Even the smallest error can result in embarrassing or even costly outcomes (misspelling a name, transposing digits in a telephone number, mistakes in a prospectus) so taking time and care to check what you have written is essential. This document explains the processes of editing and proofreading, and provides useful tips for doing both effectively.

Wikipedia’s Definition:

Proofreading is the reading of a galley proof or an electronic copy of a publication to detect and correct production errors of text or art.[1]

Difference between Proofreading and Editing.

Editing is the first task that should be undertaken after finishing the first draft of a piece of text. It involves checking the content of the text to ensure that the ideas are expressed clearly and logically, and form a coherent and meaningful whole. Editing requires careful analysis and critical thinking, and proofreading requires a great deal of attention to detail. As such, they are not tasks that can be done in a rush or squeezed in between other tasks: it is essential to devote sufficient time and concentration to both, and being in the right frame of mind to do this is very important.

Proofreading involves checking over the text in finer detail after the editing stage, to detect errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and format. Proofreading is not merely casting a glance over what you have written: it requires concentration to disconnect your mind from the content of the text in order to focus on the language and layout. Errors can be difficult to spot, so it is essential to read the text word by word to ensure that you don’t miss anything. As it involves correcting small errors (some of which can, nevertheless, have a major impact), it does not require major rewriting.

The aim of proofreading is to spot and correct errors in:

Grammar, punctuation and use of language style and format
Anything missed at the editing stage

What if you don’t quite know what you’re looking for while proofreading?

Do you know basic comma rules, how to use a semi-colon, or when to use who or whom? You might have an excellent sense of what things should look like or sound like, especially if you’re an avid reader, but if you don’t know basic grammar and punctuation rules, proofreading might be guesswork, at best, with doubtful results, at worst. Why not make your life easier and your writing better? Take some time to learn basic rules from some online resources on