Proofreading is the act of reviewing the final draft for mistakes (also called copy editing). Plain and simple. This means if you’ve been asked to proofread material for work or for a friend, the content you’re reviewing has already been thoroughly edited. All you need to search for are misspelled words, missing punctuation, and formatting inconsistencies (indents, margins, etc.).
So, what if your boss asks you, “Can you proofread this newsletter before it’s sent out?” What does he mean? Or what should he mean? In most cases, everyone’s definition of proofreading is similar, but there are varying opinions out there. Rest assured, proofreading is less involved than true editing. Usually, whatever you’re proofreading is the last and final draft.
What’s the Definition of Proofreading?
By definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, proofreading is to read and mark corrections in a proof. By the way, that particular dictionary is what many in the publishing industry use. So, if you’re ever in doubt about the spelling of a particular word, go to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
What is editing? Editing is a roundabout term that includes proofreading, but a thorough edit includes checking the document’s sentence structure, clarity, appropriate word usage, the spelling of numbers, and much more. Not only that, but depending on what type of document is being edited, different style guides are used, such as the AP style or Chicago Manual of Style. Which style guide is right for you? That’s a topic for a different blog post.
If someone asks you to proofread a document, they’re simply asking you to look it over for small errors. And if you discover many mistakes, then the material probably needs to be fully edited by a professional editor.
If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it with someone you think would enjoy it too! If you're in need of an editor, contact us: YauponBerryPress@gmail.com.
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