Writing your document is just the first step. Whether you are writing a letter, a report, web content, marketing materials or a dissertation, your writing must be edited. It must also be proofread. What is the difference? Many people think that editing and proofreading are the same thing, but actually they are two different processes. Think back to your school days: your teacher usually told you that the paper you were writing was only the “first draft”. (And you thought you were finished with that assignment!) Once your first draft is completed, the two-part editing process begins.
The whole process is all often called “editing”, but editing is actually the first component, and should begin as soon as the first draft is completed. There are several levels of editing:
* How well is the actual content written? Does it make sense? If instructions or guidelines were given, were they followed? Does the overall document have a smooth and consistent flow?
* How is the document structured? Is everything clear? Are the topics and sub-topics logical? Does the writing move smoothly from one idea to the next?
* Is your writing clear to the reader? Is everything explained clearly? Is everything cited or hyperlinked correctly? Is the tone and “voice” consistent? Is your writing too brief or too long or too repetitive or too bland?
These are just some of what is involved in the “editing” part of the process. Often it will take several revisions to reach the final draft.
Then the document is ready for proofreading, which is the last step of the editing process. Proofreading should be done after all of the revisions are completed. Proofreading involves checking for misspellings, incorrect or missing punctuation, grammar, and formatting.
Although all word processors have spelling and grammar checkers, they are not foolproof. A word can be spelled correctly, but used incorrectly. For example, many people confuse “your” and “you’re”. Both words are spelled correctly, but are used differently. A word processing spell checker would not recognize the difference. There are similar problems with relying only on the grammar checker in a word processor. English is a very complicated language, and the grammar checkers in word processing programs are too limited in their scope.
Finally,y the formatting and citations or references must be consistent. When your writing has been edited, proofread, and formatted carefully and in detail, it is finally ready for final distribution or publication. Your writing needs both editing and proofreading.
If you need professional editing and proofreading for your academic or business documents, contact us for a customized project plan.