Because I offer both proofreading and editing, I’m often asked what the difference is. This may not be the textbook answer, but it’s my process and it might help you in your next writing project.
Proofreading is the act of reading through written material for errors – spelling, grammar, punctuation. All word processing programs have a spell checker, and I always recommend you start with that, but ONLY start with it, as these are far from infallible. If you’re the author of a piece and you know you aren’t great at grammar and punctuation, ask a friend for help (one, obviously, who IS good at it). It is important, however, to honor an author’s writing style in this process. If he or she capitalizes words for humorous or emphatic purposes, unless it’s a downright screaming error it should be left as is.
There are countless resources online and in the library to help with this important process. These kinds of mistakes can drastically change the meaning of the writing so it’s important to get it correct. We’ve all seen memes online like these – don’t be one of those people!
Now, I also do line editing, the task of looking at meaning rather than structure. Line editing is the act of reviewing the flow of the meaning. Are you using the correct word in context? (The old their – they’re – there dilemma.) Do the words and structure convey the meaning behind the words? Is a sentence out of place and better in context elsewhere? Did you repeat a phrase used earlier?
If you do or intend to write often, whether articles, blog posts or books, take the time to refresh your high school writing skills so you come across as the knowledgeable pro you are!
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