Editing takes a look at a document and seeks to clarify its essence, concepts and themes. This can involve restructuring and reordering the document, changing the words and language, reducing length and so forth. Substantive, or structural, editing may be required – this can involve altering large parts of the text, reordering it and cutting large amounts of copy, and rewriting substantial amounts of the copy. In other instances, lighter copyediting – just tweaking words, sentences and paragraphs to clarify meaning and correct grammar – may be all that is needed.
Proofreading is the final step before a document is published. This involves checking for typos, spelling errors and punctuation. It can also involve checking a document for the consistent application of formatting, such as heading styles.
Why use an editor or proofreader?
Put simply, it’s really, really hard to correct your own work. You read what you *think* is there or what you expect to see, rather than what’s really there. You understand what you’re trying to say, so you don’t always notice if the message is a bit disjointed or confusing.
A different set of eyes, without the same biases as you, can make a massive difference to the readability and clarity of your document. A great editor will make you sound like yourself, only better. I can keep your message and your voice shining through, but remove any distractions and errors. Sounds pretty good, right?