Many people are unsure about what they will receive when they enlist the help of proofreading services. Does proofreading include editing? Or do proofreaders simply offer comments and suggestions on potential changes?
Proofreading does include editing. When you enlist the services of proofreaders, they should always rectify the surface errors they come across in your work, including spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
However, editing has a broader definition. When we’re referring to writing – especially creative writing – editing isn’t defined as the simple act of correcting errors.
For novels and manuscripts, editing refers to large-scale changes, which may relate to pacing, structure, character development etc. Typically, most proofreading services do not provide this type of editing service in their proofreading packages.
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What Do Proofreaders Do?
When you use a proofreading service, what do they do? Do they change your document so much that it becomes unrecognizable? Or do they perform only minor changes to spelling and grammatical issues?
In most cases, you should think about proofreading as a final check of your document to iron out any surface errors. The goal of proofreading is simply to clean up any mistakes.
Proofreaders will not attempt to change or improve the overall quality of your writing. For example, if they believe your statements are inaccurate, they will not implement any changes. If they believe the dialogue in your fiction manuscript is weak, they will usually not execute any edits to improve it.
Many proofreading services will highlight and comment on such issues, maybe even offering suggestions on how to improve your work. They may even go as far as to alter the structure of your sentences and change certain words.
But they typically will not rewrite sentences or execute changes to large-scale editing issues.
Proofreaders usually work on the following issues:
- Spelling mistakes
- Grammatical errors
- Punctuation errors
- Formatting and presentation
- Redundant words
- Word choice
When they identify parts of your writing that are weak but not necessarily erroneous, such as poor word choice, proofreaders will usually highlight the issue and offer their suggestions.
Do Proofreaders Actually Correct Errors?
Proofreaders always correct surface errors that they find in your writing, including errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling. Proofreaders should never simply point out the mistakes to you. They should always implement the appropriate changes.
Most proofreaders will also provide you with comments on each correction they implement. This is usually done via tracked changes in Microsoft Word.
Example of a Proofread Paragraph
Take a look at the paragraphs below to see the kind of issues proofreaders correct and how the writing looks after changes have been made.
Note that the proofreader has not identified weaknesses in the overall quality of writing. They have focused only on surface level mistakes.
Difference Between Proofreading and Copyediting
Many people confuse proofreading and copyediting. They’re both similar in that they involve reading and amending pieces of writing, but they do have a few significant differences.
Proofreaders identify and rectify mistakes related to spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, formatting and presentation. Proofreading is usually the final step in the writing process. The aim is to remove any mistakes that have managed to remain on the page after previous edits.
While copyeditors will execute these same changes if they identify them, they are also responsible for more complex editing issues that enhance the quality of the writing. Such issues may be related to style, consistency, tone, voice, structure and character development. They are often also tasked with identifying statements that are untrue, as well as libellous statements.
In short, copyediting a more comprehensive version of proofreading.
Of course, if proofreaders come across issues such as poor sentence structure (or other more complex editing issues), they may make the appropriate changes (or at least point them out). But these issues will have usually have been rectified in earlier stages of the writing process.
Some proofreaders do offer services that lean more towards copyediting. Along with proofreading your work, some proofreaders will also make edits to complex issues.
Proofreaders edit and rectify all surface errors that they come across in your writing. Such edits extend to spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, presentation, syntax and word choice. However, proofreaders do not rewrite your work and they do not perform more complex editing tasks, such as those related to style, consistency and character development. Proofreading tends to be used as a final check to iron out any surface errors that have been missed during previous edits.
Hopefully you've found this article helpful. Please feel free to check out our proofreading services.