Proofreading and editing are two different stages written documents undergo before being available to readers. The abundance of online tools and services help writers perform the task independently or hire a fresh pair of eyes.
I’ve rounded up some examples below to help you know what quality proofreading and editing look like. I’ve even taken some from my latest WIP (work in progress) to show you! Learn what to check for when editing and proofreading and what tools you can use for these procedures.
What to Check for When Editing
A good editor knows what type of edit to make on a specific document for their customers. Some types of writing needs knowledge of the required field of study, such as medicine, law, or technical topics. But here are the types of editing and what they check.
Structural and Developmental Editing
Structural and developmental editors look at the bigger picture of your writing. These types of edits are usually applied to research articles, novels, and some essays because they look deeply into the content.
They check your flow, style, tone, and story elements. Developmental and structural editors may also provide academic writing tips to improve your paper’s quality.
Line and Copy Editing
These types of content editing include editing for sentence structure, grammar, and word choice. It also performs detailed editing to make your paper clearer and more readable.
What to Check for When Proofreading
Proofreading is different from the editing process as it looks for mechanical errors that the copy editor missed. They do not need field expertise on the topic of writing because they only focus on spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and formatting issues.
Most Common Editing Mistakes
Editing terms can be confusing. If you still don’t know what type of editing to get, check out these common editing mistakes that a professional should help you with.
Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation Mistakes
The most basic editing services offer help with correcting pronoun references, misspellings, and improper verb tenses. They can also check run-on sentences, lack of commas, and parallelism.
Poor Sentence Structure
The sentence structure typically involves active/passive voice construction and sentence length. Some common writing mistakes an editor should spot include lengthy sentences, overuse of the passive voice, and repeated sentence starts.
The overall structure of your manuscript requires a specific editing style at different stages. For example, the editor might look at the sequence of your arguments and rearrange them. An editor can also ask you to support your evidence more comprehensively.
Editors should also check the commonly confused words. These are usually homophones and homonyms like “they’re,” “their,” and “there.” Their vocabulary should also be wide enough to spot contextual synonyms.
What Can I Use to Edit My Work?
Many AI tools can help you edit your work while keeping your document safe. Grammarly gives genre-specific suggestions depending on your desired tone and domain of writing.
Aside from basic corrections, Grammarly helps with clarity-focused sentence rewrites and confident language. It also has features for lively sentence variety, plagiarism checking, and fluency.
The company has an excellent customer support team that can help you with technical issues. Its customer service also includes expert help for your paper. See my full review here.
ProWritingAid is another tool you can try when editing fictional work. More than your grammar and writing style, the tool also checks the pacing and translation of your narrative. It also has metrics for your sentence length, acronym consistency, repeated phrases, and more. You can read my full review here.
What Can I Use to Proofread My Work?
Grammarly and ProWritingAid are both excellent online proofreading tools that feature a combination with editing. They correct basic spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization issues. But they won’t help you with the formatting problems of your work.
Google Docs’ spell checker and Microsoft Word’s Editor are also valuable tools for proofreading. They also have suggestions and “Track Changes” features if you want to comment on the writers’ work to give feedback.
If you’re proofreading a PDF file, I recommend using Adobe Acrobat Reader to highlight the errors and make suggestions. You can mark specific parts of the text and include your own text to correct their writing.
Proofreading and Editing Examples
There are many proofreading and editing samples you can find on the internet. Let’s see how the two procedures differ through this example provided by Freeindex.co.uk.
“Herald of Free Enterprise is often referred to as one of the worse tragedies of time.. From the face of it all, the tragedy appears to have been a case of negligency by officials working on the vessel. However the cardinal faults laid higher up in the company, social issues such as ignorance towars adopting a safety cultur, not adhering to standards and profeedures and unclear definition of roles were all faults contributing to the death of 193 passengers.”
“The Herald of Free Enterprise disaster is often referred to as one of the worst tragedies of its time. On the face of it, the tragedy appears to have been a result of negligence by officials working on the vessel. However, the cardinal faults lay higher up in the company. Social issues such as ignorance with regard to adopting a safety culture, not adhering to standards and procedures, and unclear definition of roles and responsibilities were all faults which contributed to the deaths of the 193 passengers.”
The enhanced document now has more accurate spelling and grammar. The proofreader may have also used a punctuation editor to correct the comma splice in the paragraph.
Notice how the proofread version didn’t undergo a comprehensive edit. It doesn’t aim to make your writing clearer or remove redundant language. Instead, the proofreader focused on the mechanical errors.
Expert editors are still needed to fix the flow, everyday language, and overall content.
“The Herald of Free enterprise disaster is often referred to as one of the worst tragedies of its time. On the face of it, the tragedy may have been caused by the negligence of officials working on the vessel; however, the cardinal faults lay higher up in the company. Social issues such as ignorance toward adopting a safety culture, not adhering to standards and procedures, and unclear definition of roles were all faults contributing to the deaths of 193 passengers.”
The edited version of the paragraph didn’t just focus on typos, misspellings, and grammar errors. It also changed one part of a sentence from “a case of negligence” to “caused by the negligence” to sound more natural. This change can also indicate an informal language.
Copy editing also involves examining the flow of ideas. The sample edit used a semicolon to separate two clauses to show one complete thought in a single sentence.
Some editors may try substantive editing to focus on the presentation of the whole text and its organization. This process will make the paragraph more suitable for its readership and purpose.
Note that real-life examples use different techniques depending on the document type. Some types of documents allow you to track changes, while others will require you to draw symbols.
Proofreading and Editing Example from My Latest WIP
Here’s a screenshot of an excerpt taken from the latest Fantasy Romance book I’m working on. It’s still in the writing stage, so zero edits have been made. I ran it through Grammarly just to see what popped up.
The blue marks indicate phrases and sentences not written well and should be reworded.
The red marks are straight-up spelling mistakes and typos. But I just wanted to point out here that my capitalization of the word ‘summer’ is actually correct because in my book it’s a location.
And the green marks are just things that could be worded better but aren’t necessarily incorrect.
This is what it looks like after I made some changes.
Proofreading & Editing Summary
I hope this article on editing and proofreading examples helped you differentiate between the two post-writing stages. Learning which service you need will help you get more potential readers who will enjoy and engage with your written works. Need more help with proofreading and editing?