Updated April 22, 2021
Want to know some scary facts that are overlooked by too many content creators?
Editing and proofreading are not the same thing. And you can’t do both at the same time.
And if you think the same person can write, edit, and proof their own work, you should be afraid, very afraid of publishing that content.
Even the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes editors differently than editors. Its description of the proofreader’s duties includes: “Read transcripts or set up a proofreading type to detect and highlight to correct any grammatical, typographical, or structural errors. Does not include workers whose primary job is to edit the copy. ”
Table of Contents
What’s the difference?
Tasks include checking document text for grammar, spelling, style, and punctuation issues before preparing for proofreading. The copy editor can also rewrite, if needed, to fix any problems with the transition, adjective , jargon, and to ensure the style of the work matches the publication. This work is called a revision.
In contrast, the proofreader will review the content after it has gone through the editing process. They scrutinize content in its finished and near-published state to spot any Any typo or minor error? not edited during editing or created in production.
TIP: If you’re wearing a proofreading hat for some projects and an editor hat for others, don’t try to do one after the other. Rest for a while. Train your brain with a wordless activity. If you don’t let off steam, you’ll likely end up wearing both your cap and your editor – and content review will be cluttered and unfocused.
How to edit well
With your editor hat on, follow the five-step process:
- Make sure you understand the overall purpose of the piece of content for the audience and the mark before you read the first word.
TIP: Ask the content creator to write a sentence or two at the beginning of the content to explain to the editor who the intended audience is and why.
- Read through content like a reader – disable the keyboard except for scrolling. (If reviewing in print, keep the pen out of your hand.)
- Review content as an editor. Put your hand on the keyboard (or the pen in your hand) and take note of what’s not working well and why. Heading Does it capture the reader’s attention? ? Does the content focus on a single theme throughout the work? Is each sentence and paragraph understandable? Is the order of the content logical? Content that represents the voice of brand no and style?
- Pause, then edit. Depending on your process, if the necessary changes are significant, return the marked content to the writer for modification. If the content isn’t visible to the writer again, go ahead and make changes.
- Read through one last time to ensure that the content is well read from the point of view of the audience and the brand.
TIP: If you edited the content significantly, go back to the writer, especially if the article has a strikethrough line, to make sure you edited it correctly.
With content in good form from readability , you can now scrutinize other elements of your content. You should:
- Ensure factual accuracy and proper credit. If the content includes research, statistics, opinions, or citations, make sure they are exactly and correctly assigned . LIVE digital form make sure the links go to the original source of the information (not to another post citing the original content).
- Do math. If the content includes numbers, make sure they add up correctly. For example, if an article about a favorite ice cream flavor includes the sentence: “70% agree chocolate ice cream is better than vanilla”, the next sentence should not be “one third prefers vanilla to chocolate. “The math doesn’t add up.
- Review your style guide in view. Thoroughly scrutinize the copy to make sure it follows your chosen dictionary and brand style guidelines. For example, the CMI Style Guide is an AP Style Guide with some minor branding customizations.
TIP: Create a checklist for editing and proofreading to ensure that each step is completed. When someone has to physically check an item on a list, they are more likely to do so. In addition, the completed checklist with editor and proofreader names also serves as a useful tracking tool for each piece of content.
How to be a good proofreader
In the editing stage, the work is very difficult. Proofreaders shouldn’t review content just once and expect to capture everything that needs fixing. Like editing, proofreading is a multi-step process. Each of these steps requires its own way of reading content:
- Review to understand and understand. While the editing process should have solved any problems in this area, proofreaders must read through the content to get the hang of it in order to properly appreciate the content. And if errors are found at this point, be sure to address and correct them, preferably with input from the editor.
- Read each sentence for correct grammar. This is what most people consider proofreading – subject-matching-verb.
- Check the spelling of each word. This sounds easier. If you check spelling the same way you read (top to bottom, left to right), you’ll make fewer mistakes because your brain is still reading to understand. Start with the last word in the content and work your way up to the top, checking the spelling of each word as you would.
- Review content in its published form. Review the content to make sure it renders the way it was intended. Do all subheadings follow the same typeface? Are there any awkward line breaks? Does the content match the table of contents? Do all link work?
TIP: Proofreaders should record mistakes they find more than once. Share that information with writers and editors to prevent (or at least minimize) future problems.
NOTE: If your team only has resources for a single person to handle editing and proofreading tasks, that’s okay. Just make sure to create a production schedule that at least allows editing and proofreading to happen on separate days. You can also use tools like Hemingway App and Grammarly to help with the editing and proofreading process.
Continue editing AND proofreading
By recognizing the fact that editing and proofreading are two separate responsibilities, you will improve the results of your content so that they are not intimidating to your readers or your brand. You’ll also avoid spending time on the major problems that arise from poor editing and poor proofreading (e.g. lack of interest and trust in your brand’s content, which ultimately leads to fewer people). read more).
Please Note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by the author or sources. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or the company you’ve used).
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute