Editing vs. Proofreading

Know the Difference

Editing and Proofreading

When it comes to writing services, many people use the terms editing and proofreading interchangeably; however, they are actually two distinct phases of the writing process. The editing phase occurs after your first draft has been completed, when you are reviewing and rewriting one or more sentences of the paper. Once the rewrites have satisfied the requirements of the assignment, the paper is then ready for the proofreading phase. Proofreading is a thorough examination of the paper, which includes grammar, spelling, punctuation, citations, and more. Proofreading is the last and final phase of getting your paper ready to turn in.


When editing your paper, you are rereading it to make sure it adheres to the assignment at hand. Furthermore, your evidence needs to back up your claims, the paper must be logically organized, and the transitions from one paragraph to another need to be seamless. Most professional writers and academic instructors agree that when papers are edited, several target areas need to be considered:

  • Structure – The overall structure of your paper should be Does your paper have an appropriate introduction and conclusion? Is your thesis clearly stated in your introduction? Is it clear how each paragraph in the body of your paper is related to your thesis? Are the paragraphs arranged in a logical sequence? Have you made clear transitions between paragraphs? One way to check the structure of your paper is to make a reverse outline of the paper after you have written the first draft.
  • Editing is what you begin doing as soon as you finish your first draft. You reread your draft to see, for example, whether the paper is well-organized, the transitions between paragraphs are smooth, and your evidence really backs up your argument. When you edit, you should take into consideration the following areas:
    • Does your content include all of the elements that were spelled out in the assignment?
    • Are your statements accurate?
    • Does your paper make a valid argument?
    • If so, are your claims consistent?
    • Do you have supporting evidence?
    • Did you write a proper introduction with your thesis stated clearly?
    • Do you have a succinct conclusion?
    • Does each paragraph in your paper relate to your thesis?
    • Do paragraphs seamlessly transition from one to another?
    • Are opening paragraph sentences clearly stated?
    • Have all terms been defined to the reader?
    • Are all pronouns clearly referenced?
    • Are you using the correct tone, i.e., persuasive, formal, informal, and more)?
    • Do all citations correctly match up with the references?
    • Are the citations correctly formatted?


Considered the final stage of the editing process, proofreading can sometimes go through many iterations (sets of eyes) before the paper is perfect.  Have patience and allow extra time for this process.

  • First Impressions Count – Your document’s final recipient will immediately formulate an opinion about you when reading your paper.  Make sure it’s in perfect condition.
  • Don’t Rely on Spell Check – Many words have similar meanings but different spellings.  For example, if you write “farther” when you mean “further,” spell check will not catch this error.  In fact, most people won’t, but a good proofreader will!
  • Allow Extra Time – Don’t wait until the last minute to proofread or find a proofreader for your paper.  Aggressive deadlines won’t allow for errors to be caught, just mistakes to slip through the cracks.
  • Print Out a Hard Copy – If you can, print your paper and read it over.  Mark up each and every error with a red pen.
  • Keep the proofreading process separate from the editing process.
  • Proofread for one type of error at a time
  • Don’t use grammar checkers
  • Don’t use online translation programs
  • Read the paper backwards!
  • Say each word out loud.

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