What is the Difference Between Editing and Proofreading?


28th May 2024

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Academic writing involves more than just putting words on paper. Proofreading and editing are crucial steps in completing any piece of writing. After finishing a paper, your thesis or dissertation, these processes are essential to prepare your work for submission.

Proofreading and editing help ensure a clear structure, enhance readability, and correct grammatical errors. However, students often wonder whether these two processes are the same or different. So, are proofreading and editing the same thing?

While both processes aim to polish a piece of writing, they are very distinct. Curious about the differences between them? This detailed guide will help you understand how editing and proofreading differ.

Proofreading vs Editing

A common trait between proofreading and editing is that they both require attentive reading and comprehension skills. However, other than this, there are very few similarities between these processes. Using these terms interchangeably is common but can lead to severe miscommunication and disrupt your work and its quality. From professionals carrying out these procedures to goals, these methods differ from each other in various aspects. Some of these significant distinctions are as follows.


What is Editing?

Editing is the process of checking a writing work for its substance, readability, and structure. It is the first step after writing is completed. Editing focuses on both large and minute details of your work. An editor makes changes to your writing to remove varying kinds of errors and enhance readability. These professionals aim to enhance clarity and grammar, ensuring that your writing aligns and supports the structure, voice, and message.

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading is typically the final stage of the editing process. A proofreader examines your work for spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors. They also look after inconsistencies in spacing, fonts, and hyphenation. When proofreading is completed, your work can be submitted or moved forward to the next stage for publication.


Editing aims to enhance your writing style and make your work more readable and clear. On the other hand, proofreading aims to ensure that your writing is error-free. So, they both have clearly different goals. However, an editor might make corrections to your work, while a proofreader might suggest improvements to enhance readability.

Role of Professionals

Editors are responsible for organising and structuring the content of your work. They make changes to keep the readers engaged. Editors rewrite poorly structured sentences and even remove the irrelevant and repetitive ones. They are also responsible for checking the figures, sources, facts, and situations of the facts and statements included in the content.

The role of a proofreader is quite different from that of an editor. They play a complex role in the editing process by checking your work for errors, missing words, and missing pages. These professionals play a crucial role in the editing process as they ensure high-quality and error-free content.


The responsibilities of editors are numerous. They perform various tasks to enhance your work’s quality. For example, they substitute words to enhance the substance of your writing. They also change sentences to enhance continuity and maintain consistency in the language. An editor also improves the voice of your work and removes repetition. These professionals ensure that each fact you include is correct to ensure authenticity.

A proofreader’s job involves correcting errors in spelling, grammar, and capitalisation. They also ensure consistency in style, fonts, and spacing. These professionals also correct page numbers and indexing and remove unnecessary page breaks.

Skills Required

Editing and proofreading use different skills. Editing involves skills like a profound understanding of the expectations of a reader and knowledge of current affairs and trends. It also includes research skills and the ability to keep the readers engaged. Editors are responsible for improving your writing. Hence, they use their skills to improve sentence structure, grammar, and vocabulary. On the other hand, skills required for proofreading involve organisational skills, patience, attention to detail, sound knowledge of proofreading techniques and the ability to work accurately.


Another difference between editing and proofreading is the duration of both processes. The average time required by an editor to edit is around one to five pages, with 250 words each in an hour. However, the exact number of pages depends on your writing style, continuity, consistency, attention to grammar, and punctuation. Editors may work with a team or independently. On the other hand, a proofreader takes about an hour to proofread an average of 11 pages. However, the exact number of pages depends on the size of the copy, the number of errors, and the proofreader’s experience.

Number of Passes

When you complete and submit your document to be reviewed by professionals, it goes through various stages of editing. Your document will first go to a structural editor who changes the structure and substance of your piece. Then, the document is passed on to an editor who edits it for large and minute details to enhance its readability. Now, depending on the complexity of your writing, editors might make two or more two editing passes to be sure about the quality. On the other hand, proofreaders usually make around two to three passes to ensure the correction of varying kinds of errors.

Complexity of Improvements

Editing focuses on large-scale and complex changes in your document. These changes aim to provide clarity to your writing and increase its readability. On the other hand, proofreading mainly focuses on small grammatical errors and typos. Editors may even rewrite a few sentences. They also remove or change paragraphs to enhance the transition between sentences and sections. An editor’s job also includes fixing wordiness, continuity issues, and jargon in your text.

Proofreading does not involve rewriting or removing sentences or paragraphs. It is limited to correcting your text for formatting and typographical errors. If a proofreader finds it necessary, they might send your document back to the editors for revisions and rewriting. These professionals go through each word, sentence, and paragraph to ensure the elimination of even the slightest error.


The next difference between editing and proofreading is the guidelines followed for each. Editors are responsible for following the specific guidelines provided by your university when writing the document. They follow several guidelines to ensure the factual authenticity of your text.

On the other hand, a proofreader follows a dictionary to ensure consistency in spelling and grammar. They stick to general grammar rules to identify and eliminate grammatical errors like passive voice usage, noun-verb agreements, number styles and pronouns.

Editing and Proofreading Tailored to PhD Students

Reading this comprehensive post must have helped you understand how editing is different from proofreading. But you might be wondering: who can help you with these crucial tasks? The answer is simple: My Private PhD. Our team of experts provides top-notch editing and proofreading services tailored to PhD students to refine your writing and ensure it meets the highest standards.

Whether you’re working on a journal article or a conference paper, or you need to edit your entire PhD thesis, our experienced editors will meticulously review your work for structure, coherence, and clarity. Our proofreaders will then catch any grammatical errors, typos, or inconsistencies, ensuring your document is polished to perfection.

Don’t leave your academic success to chance. Trust My Private PhD to enhance the quality of your writing and help you achieve excellent grades. Contact us today to make your writing flawless and impressive.