What is proof editing? What do you need to know?

What is proof editing? What is editing? What is proof reading?


I’d wager that you’ve Googled one of these terms at some point. If nothing else, out of pure curiosity over an actual need.

All of these terms, and more from the world of editing, are often confused.

In our digital age the lines have been blurred because, back in the day, proof reading referred to the page proofs that were checked prior to going to press.

What is proof reading?

Proof reading is the final step in the editorial process. It’s like the quality check.

The purpose of proof reading is to ensure that there are no errors left in the text after drafting, writing, editing and re-writes are done.

For the most part, proof reading is light work. There is no effort to restructure sentences or re-write complicated sections for more clarity.

The main focus for proof reading is:

  • Typos

  • Grammar

  • Capitalisation

  • Formatting

  • Layout issues

What is editing?

There are generally 2 types of editing, however, these in themselves are commonly confused and the edges are blurred.

Helpful, right?

Content editing is usually carried out during the development stage. It looks at the bigger picture and aims to improve readability, structure, and clarity of the messaging through adjustment of the content.

Copy editing focusses on the smaller picture. Think grammar, word choice and sentence structure, fact-checking and referencing a style guide. Consistency in spelling, names, places and general information is a big focus for a copy editor.

During the editing of content, the structure can change significantly, and this is why proof reading occurs last.

What is proof editing?

Proof editing is a very new term to the industry, one I first came across in conversation with some fellow copy editors and proofreaders from the UK.

Being a new term, there is plenty of room for confusion and interpretation.

Proof editing is a combination of editing and proof reading and, I believe, a term that has arisen due to the blurred lines created by our digital age.

Where editing and proof reading are usually carried out by 2 separate people, by combining that role into a proof editor, one person can carry out the work.

Proof editing is considered the new ‘one-stop’ service that meets the needs of the client and their text without straining the budget.

Generally, and in my case, proof editing allows for:

  • Light re-writes

  • Sentence restructuring

  • Removal of repetitive phrases and words

  • Checking of facts and references

  • Checking of: spelling, punctuation, grammar

  • Adjusting style inconsistencies – think headings, quote marks, date formats

  • Remove of double spaces and rogue empty lines (commonly plaguing social media posts)

Why is it important to know the difference?

In most cases it’s important that you know so you don’t hire the wrong person!

These days it will become clear very quickly if you’re talking to the wrong person and, hopefully, that person will also realise and stop if they’re unable to support you.

I, personally, won’t question you over what you’re calling the service. Copy editing, proof reading, proof editing… call it what you will. As long as you’re able to make your needs clear and I feel I can meet them, I’ll quote for it!

What type of content is proof editing good for?

Wondering whether proof editing is right for you?

Proof editing is a great option for things such as:

  • Blogs

  • Social media posts

  • Podcast/video notes

  • Website copy

  • eBooks/Case studies

  • University theses

So, remember…

Be clear on what you want for your piece of content. Being cagey will not get you what you need. It could result in mixed messages, confusion and misunderstanding of expected outcomes.

Be to the point. Do you want a quick once over for your text? A more in-depth review? Or a combination of the two?

What next?

Impress your audience with perfectly polished content.

Whether it’s social media posts, a blog, or something else, it doesn’t hurt to have a second set of eyes check it out.

With my proof editing service, be sure your content goes out into the world:

  • Making sense

  • Free from mistakes

  • Looking great

It’s time to outsmart the autocorrect built into your brain and outsource the final checks of your content.

Contact me now to discuss your editorial needs and I’ll prepare a quote to suit your content, timeframe and budget.