What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Editing?


If you have written a book or manuscript and don’t know what to do next in terms of editing, you’re not alone. There are various types of editing, and then there is proofreading.

Although proofreading can be considered a form of editing, they are not the same. For more information on proofreading and editing, check out this tool called AutoCrit.

Either way, if you need to find an editor but you don’t know whether you need your proofread, proofread, edited, or both, we will explain the distinction between the two.

In all reality, if you want to put together a truly professional piece of work, chances are pretty high that you will want to have your writing both edited and proofread.

Editing vs. Proofreading – The Main Differences

Let’s look at the core differences between editing and proofreading so you know what to expect once you are done with the initial writing phase.

When They are Performed

Editing happens on the first draft of the document and on subsequent drafts, all the way up until the rough final version. This is an ongoing process that continues until the details and issues are hammered out. On the other hand, proofreading occurs at the proof stage. Proofreading is performed on the final draft of the writing. It’s the last stage before the book is finalized and published.

The Issues Addressed

What is essential to know is that there are different types of editing, including developmental, evaluation, copy, line, and content editing.

They each look at something slightly different, but in the grand scheme of things, the editing process is all about making sure that the writing is structured, flows well, makes sense, and has some kind of an arc. This can take the form of macro editing the big picture or micro editing, which is performed on individual chapters, paragraphs, and even sentences.

Proofreading points out any errors that have been missed in the editing process. Proofreading is about finding those tricky spelling and grammar errors to see if everything comes together neatly, that there are no title, heading, or page number inconsistencies, bad line and page breaks, etc. In many ways, proofreading is like copy editing.

The Point of it All

Editing is more about looking at the big picture and addressing the writing’s core issues, whereas proofreading is more technical more about formatting, punctuation, spelling, etc.

The Areas of Improvement

In terms of editing, this is about taking a not-so-great piece of writing and turning it into something worth reading, something coherent that makes sense. This is not the point of proofreading. When you proofread a book, you are looking for remaining errors and inconsistencies, but in general, proofreading is done on an already good piece of writing.

Word Reduction

Editing often involves removing unnecessary words, cliches, and other such things, which may be seen as frivolous; therefore, editing usually reduces the overall word count. On the other hand, when you proofread something, you don’t remove any words, but instead, just make sure that there are no errors.


One of the most significant differences between editing and proofreading concerns collaboration. Unless you edit your own book, the writer and editor have to collaborate throughout the various editing phases. There is a lot of back and forth action that goes on here between both parties.

Editors and writers work together. However, with proofreading, there is really no collaboration to speak of.

A proofreader spots errors, points them out, and the writer can then correct those errors. Editing sees a lot of collaboration because it involves making fundamental changes to the writing, whereas proofreading is just about surface appearances.

Time Spent

Editing is a very in-depth process that improves the book’s overall quality in every way, which, combined with the fact that there is a lot of collaboration going on, can take a long time to do. However, proofreading rarely involves more than just reading through the text once to spot errors, so it really does not take very long.


As you can see, there are some fundamental differences between proofreading and editing. However, many would say that proofreading is the final stage of editing; it is the last dash to spot any remaining errors or inconsistencies that were not caught in the initial editing process.


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