Editing and proofreading are both terms which are used in writing and publishing contexts. Many people usually think these two terms have the same meaning and therefore use them interchangeably but this is not the case. Editing and proofreading are two different terms altogether.
Before we can look at the differences between editing and proofreading, lets first get their definitions. Starting with editing, Oxford Dictionaries defines editing as pre-paring a written material for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it. Proofreading on the other hand is defined as reading carefully through a written material in order to detect and mark errors which need to be corrected.
The easiest way to make people understand that editing and proofreading are two different things is to perhaps pose the following question to them, why do publish-ing firms employ both editors and proofreading? This question simply points out that editing and proofreading are two different processes and are each done differ-ently. Lets look at the work of an editor and that of a proofreader individually so as to understand the difference between editing and proofreading.
An editor does not only engage in correcting mistakes in a written material, he or she also works to ensure that the goal and the purpose for which the material was written is met. If for example the book that is being published is about nutrition for good health, he or she will go through all the articles or pages which have been writ-ten awaiting publishing to ensure that the book gives proper information on that topic to the readers. He or she may have to cut off some parts which may not be appropriate or even add some information which the writer may have forgotten to include but is necessary.
An editor also checks aspects such as the size of an article, the decency of language, and the relevance of an article. If an article is too long, the editor will have to reduce it before publication. Also, if the article contains inappropriate language, he or she will replace that with something more acceptable.
There is a lot that goes into editing. Before publications such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Elle, and Vogue go into circulation, there is someone who sat long and hard at their desk making changes to articles here and there. That person replaced wrong grammar, wrong spelling, wrong information, and made corrections here and there. Publications such as Wall Street Journal hire many editors since news is always flowing in and they need to relay it to readers fast and correctly.
For people who have submitted their articles for publication in newspapers or mag-azines, you may have noticed that the final publication is not exactly the same as the initial copy you had submitted. If you have then the changes you saw on your arti-cle were the work of an editor.
A proofreader usually reads through an article or any written item to ensure that the item to be published is correct. He or she will read the final article carefully and check for any mistake that may exist in the article. This could be incorrect grammar, spelling mistakes, or incorrect punctuation. A proofreader usually reads a material word to word so as not to miss out on any detail which may need to be corrected. He or she checks the headings, body, and footnotes of an article to ensure that the article is correctly written.
Proofreading is normally done just before a written material is published or printed.