Editing and proofreading are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably. Both have to do with assuring clarity of expression and removing distractions from the written word. Yet they truly are different tasks.
Proofreading basically looks at the mechanics of your writing – the nagging distractions that jump out at some readers and just leave others knowing something isn’t quite right. The answers to questions like:
- Are all the words spelled correctly?
- Is there agreement between the subject and the action – a singular noun followed by a singular verb?
- Was the right there, their, or they’re used in that sentence?
Editing takes the process several steps further. This is when the substance of the writing is checked.
- Does it make sense?
- Does anything appear to be missing?
- Does what is written support the underlying goal of the project?
In a recent article of mine there were nine paragraphs that connected different aspects of the issues surrounding needs for pure water – everything from the environment to growing food to the roles of powerbrokers.
I used 341 words that clearly presented the issue, but my editor pointed out that they didn’t support the goal of the article. When I re-read the article, it was obvious that while they flowed smoothly, they didn’t belong there. The words lead the audience in a different direction than I had planned. So, they were replaced by 137 words that made my point and then left room in the article to expand on the parts that were important for that article.
A good editor helps keep you on target. Material that has to be removed from one article may fit better in a different article. One or more chapters that are well written may belong in the second book in your series rather than the first one. As the writer, you are too close to the work to be able to recognize this.
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Got questions about how an editor could improve your writing? Let’s chat. Just give me a call at 843-593-0045 or click here to schedule an appointment.