Editing and Proofreading: Not the same!

You’ve been working for hours on your latest piece of copy. You brainstormed a phenomenal idea, got it on the page in a clear and exciting way. It’s coming along well, but you know it needs to be refined and polished before it’s sent out into the world. (Sloppy content can cause real damage to a brand, you know.) Does it need editing? Proofreading? Both?

Wait. Aren’t editing and proofreading the same thing?

Definitely not!

Getting your idea written out is a great first step. Excellent editing and proofreading are critical follow up steps to producing the best content.

What is editing?

Editing is the process of reviewing and refining – in this case, a piece of text – to ensure that the ideas and structure are strong and smooth. The process of editing should double check some very important elements:

  • Are the key messages clear and explained fully?
  • Is the progression of the ideas logical?
  • Are the transitions as elegant as possible?
  • Does this text achieve the overall goal? (Informing readers, persuading them of something, compelling an action, etc.?)
  • Is it consistent with other messaging and materials?

It may be helpful to think of your text as a house. Editing ensures that the interior structural elements – the framing, beams, and walls – are as solid as they can be. The next step, proofreading, is like making sure that all of the interior design is flawless.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading is a careful review of a piece of text to identify and correct any errors. Here are a few things – among many – that proofreading should catch:

  • Misspelled words
  • Improper use of words (your/you’re, affect/effect, their/there, it’s/its, etc.)
  • Grammatical errors
  • Inappropriate or missed punctuation
  • Layout problems (spaces, indentations, etc.)
Editing and proofreading aren’t the same thing. They’re unique and important processes that need to happen separately. A professional can make it a breeze.

Can I edit and proofread at the same time?

You really shouldn’t.

Here’s why: You’re looking for different problems, and looking for too much at once is a recipe to miss significant issues. It’s really tough to be analyzing overarching logic and themes, while at the same moment ensuring that each word is spelled correctly.

While we can rely on spelling and grammar check functions to catch some of these issues, they’re far from perfect. Simply running spell-check is not a substitute for a detailed review of your content.

In your marketing and brand communications – where every single word counts – make sure that you have sufficient time to thoughtfully, carefully edit and proofread everything you write. Yes, it takes time. But making an excellent impression is worth it!

Alternatively, it’s a piece of cake to take writing, editing, and proofreading off of your “To Do” list. Hand it off to a professional, and spend your precious time elsewhere. You’ve got enough on your plate; delegating writing, editing, and proofreading is an easy way to lighten your load!

Published by Melissa Thomasma

A rare Jackson Hole native, Melissa Thomasma earned degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of Montana before returning to the Teton Mountains. Since declaring herself “into words” at the age of three, she’s made a career of arranging them on pages. As founder of Elevation Writing, she helps brands tell their unique stories through innovative, engaging digital and print content. When she’s not scribbling away, she loves cooking, fly fishing, and exploring with her husband and tiny humans.

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