A Guide to the Proofreading and Editing Process
Proofreading and editing are two important parts of the revision process, and they are both essential for written documents that will be published or presented to the public. However, they produce different results depending on the type of document, and writers should be aware of what each step entails so that they can make the right choice when it comes to perfecting their work.
Proofreading vs Editing
Most texts are both edited and proofread after the draft is completed. These texts include essays, research papers, journal manuscripts, and other works for publication or submission. Both editing and proofreading demand careful attention, but each focuses on different aspects of the writing.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading means checking for and fixing objective errors in a text. This includes identifying and correcting the following:
- Grammar mistakes and mechanics issues
- Spelling errors and typos
- Incorrect punctuation
- Formatting and writing inconsistencies
Before a work is published, proofreaders check a “proof copy” (a printed version of the text) and note errors using standard proofreading marks. Nowadays, most professional proofreaders review digital texts using MS Word’s “track changes” feature or Google Docs’ “editing” mode.
When to proofread
Proofreading is usually the final step of the revision process and is done after editing has been completed. After all errors, formatting issues, and inconsistencies have been corrected, the work is considered complete and ready for publication.
What is editing?
Editing means improving the quality of writing in terms of style, vocabulary, readability, and natural phrasing or “flow.” Editing typically identifies and corrects the following:
- Wordiness (using too many unnecessary words)
- Incorrect or inappropriate terms and expressions
- Repetition and redundancy
- Unacademic and awkward terms
- Incorrect formatting of citations and references
After receiving editing (which can include language editing, copy-editing, and line editing), your expressions and terminology should be more precise, your language less repetitive and awkward, and the overall quality of your writing better.
When to edit
Language editing is usually done after the first draft of a document is finished. After reviewing the work to ensure proper content and organization, authors should edit to improve the language and clarity of their ideas and arguments. This increases the writing’s impact on the reader.
Editing and proofreading can be completed in two separate stages or simultaneously. The revision order depends on the type of work being revised (research paper, essay, cover letter, etc.) and whether the author is self-editing or receiving help from a peer or professional editor.
Basic editing can be done by the author or an experienced peer. However, language editing and proofreading are often done simultaneously by a professional editor with subject expertise and a deep understanding of style conventions and English language rules.
In the editing sample below, the editor has improved readability and elevated the language by changing vocabulary terms, rephrasing sentences, and modifying the transitions.
In the proofreading sample below, the proofreader has limited their revisions to objective errors: focusing on correcting grammatical, spelling, and mechanical errors. As you can see, potential issues with style, vocabulary, and expression have not been addressed.
The Stages of Editing and Proofreading a Paper
|Revision Type||This includes||Revision done by|
The author of the text or a research peer with relevant subject expertise
Line Editing /
Copy editing and line editing are often used interchangeably because their purposes overlap. These two are often done simultaneously by a single editor.
Line editing (or “stylistic editing”)
A professional line editor, copy editor, or language editor
A professional proofreader or editor
Do I need both editing and proofreading?
Not all texts require both language editing and proofreading. The type of revision your work needs depends on your writing quality, the type of document, and where you are submitting the work.
Whoever edits your work should:
- Be an “expert” or possess a “professional” level of written English
- Have a deep, technical understanding of English
- Have a native-level knowledge of vocabulary terms, phrasing, and expressions
- Be capable of catching all grammatical, mechanical, and stylistic errors
Although some authors edit and proofread their own work, even writers with years of experience often seek the guidance of a professional editor. Therefore, language editing by a third party is usually recommended for any important text.
For these authors, professional editing and proofreading are strongly recommended
- English as a Second Language (ESL) authors. (Recommended Service: Academic Editing Services)
- Authors of books or other long manuscripts. (Recommended Service: Editing Services for Authors)
For these authors, professional editing would be helpful (but perhaps not essential)
- Academic authors submitting a research manuscript for publication. (Recommended Service: Manuscript Proofreading & Editing Services)
- Businesses and professionals. (Recommended Service: Business and Corporate Editing Services)
For these authors, professional proofreading alone is probably sufficient
- Students, researchers, and other authors with strong writing and editing skills. (Recommended Wordvice Service: Professional Proofreading Services)
- Fiction and non-fiction writers who have already received editing. (Recommended Wordvice Service: Editing Service for Authors)
How much does editing and proofreading cost?
Companies vary in how they calculate editing and proofreading rates: by the hour, by the page, by the individual word, or by bulk numbers of words (one price for 1 to 1,000 words; another price for 1,001 to 3,000 words, etc.).
Authors should receive price quotations from several companies and compare to see whose rates are most affordable for the quality. Some companies require a document to be submitted before offering a price estimate.
Proofreading and editing rates per hour
Per-hour editing rates are usually charged by independent freelance editors and can range from $10 to $100 an hour, depending on the editor’s experience and level of subject expertise.
Editors cannot predict exactly how long it will take to edit or proofread a document; therefore, authors may not know the full price of proofreading or editing until after the revision has been completed. Cost, speed, and quality should all be considered when choosing hourly editing rates.
Proofreading and editing rates per word
Professional proofreading and editing services charge per-word rates ranging from $0.01 (one cent) to $0.10 (ten cents) for “standard” revision, which can include basic style editing or simply proofreading or copy-editing.
|Wordvice Editing Rates for 1,000 Words of Text|
|Turnaround Time||Academic Editing||Admissions Editing||Business Editing|
|120 hours (5 days)||Academic Editing : $40.00||Admissions Editing : $40.00||Business Editing : $30.00|
|72 hours (3 days)||Academic Editing : $60.00||Admissions Editing : $70.00||Business Editing : $42.00|
|24 hours (1 days)||Academic Editing : $80.00||Admissions Editing : $90.00||Business Editing : $51.75|
How long does editing and proofreading take?
Authors should leave enough time for editing and proofreading between drafting and publication. However, for papers or essays with a hard deadline, be sure to find an editing service that can deliver revised files on time.
Most online editing services offer several different turnaround times, but a minimum of 24 hours is recommended for proofreading. For longer documents or documents that may require more extensive revision, it is best to allow for at least 48 hours. Additionally, a longer turnaround time is typically associated with a lower editing price.
Wordvice calculates editing rates based on three factors: document type, word count, and turnaround time. For example, editing for a 1,000-word research paper would range in price from around $.05 per word ($46) for a turnaround of 96 hours to $0.08 cents per word ($80) for a turnaround of 24 hours.
Admissions essay editing for documents such as SOPs or letters of recommendation is priced at $0.04 per word ($40) for a turnaround of 96 hours and $0.09 per word ($90) for a turnaround of 24 hours. Lower rates are available for longer turnaround times, but longer turnarounds are only available for documents with higher word counts (minimum 4,000 words for a 7-day turnaround).
Wordvice offers similar pricing for business editing and book editing. Prices are determined by built-in rates that factor in the amount of time and attention different document types require.
Editing Tips and Guidelines
Basic proofreading and editing skills are essential for anyone who writes. For more basic texts such as college and university essays, blogs, and personal writing, there are some techniques you can use to revise effectively before sharing your work with others.
Take a break from the text before editing
When you write, read, and review the same text for hours or days, it becomes much harder to catch errors. Before proofreading and editing, set your work aside for a day or two so that you can come back to it with a fresh perspective.
Edit your writing before proofreading
Before proofreading your work for grammatical and mechanical errors, thoroughly revise your work for style, vocabulary, and clarity. Fixing minor errors will be the final stage in the revision process, so only proofread once you have completed a draft that you are satisfied with.
Make an editing checklist
Before you begin editing your work, create a list of the exact issues you plan to address so you don’t overlook your editing objectives.
Here are some examples of the issues you might want to focus on:
- Substitute incorrect or non-academic terminology and vocabulary.
- Rephrase unnatural phrases, expressions, and sentences.
- Revise transition terms and phrases to better tie your paragraphs together.
- Enhance flow and readability by removing unnecessary and repetitive terms.
- Vary the structure and length of your sentences.
- Apply active and passive voice correctly.
Use proofreading tools and editing software
While many research authors use special typesetting systems such as LaTeX, the most widely used word processing program is MS Word. Using Word’s “track changes” function, you can view the precise changes made to a document.
If you have repeatedly misspelled certain words, misapplied capitalization or formatting, or even used UK English when you meant to use US (or vice versa), you can use the Find and Replace function to fix instances of the same mistake.
Once you have finished editing your work using “track changes,” toggle between “Simple Markup” and “All Markup” to view the finalized revision or individual alterations, respectively. Carefully review the revised text before accepting any changes.
Learn from your mistakes to improve your writing
Pay close attention to the specific writing and punctuation errors you tend to make. Understanding what mistakes you repeatedly make can help you understand how to avoid them and improve your writing skills.
Proofreading Checklist: Common Errors in Grammar, Punctuation, and Mechanics
Knowing which errors to look for is challenging. Typos and spelling errors are easy to spot, but mistakes in grammar and punctuation can be more difficult to catch. The table below presents some of the most common objective errors to watch out for when proofreading.
How can you check the quality of an editing service?
Editing quality varies greatly between services, and all authors should do their homework before choosing one to revise their document. Here are a few criteria to assess the quality of an editing company:
A proven record of professional editing and proofreading
Has the service been around for a few years? The length of time an editing company has been in operation can be an important indicator of its quality and trustworthiness.
Highly qualified editors
Does the company have well-qualified editors from a range of academic and scientific backgrounds? Many online editing services display editor profiles on their website.
Client review ratings
Does the service charge a per-word rate rather than an hourly or bulk-word rate? For the most affordable proofreading services, choose a company that charges by the word.
Convenient ordering process
Does the service offer an instant price quote for editing and proofreading based on factors such as word count and delivery time?
A range of delivery times
Does the service offer different turnaround times? Can they provide express delivery (24 hours or less) for urgent documents and multiple-day delivery for longer documents?
Security and confidentiality
Privacy is crucial when choosing any online service. Does the editing service use data encryption and 2-step verification? Do their editors sign non-disclosure agreements to keep submitted documents confidential?
Great customer support
Does the service offer a quality or satisfaction guarantee? Are they available to answer questions or concerns about your order 24/7? Choose an editing service that provides contact information on its website and makes itself available to answer questions about its services.
Recommended Editing Service
Wordvice provides English proofreading and editing for a wide range of documents, including journal manuscripts, academic and research papers, college and graduate admissions essays, theses, dissertations, research proposals, and business and corporate documents.
Our standard academic editing, which includes both proofreading and language editing, begins at a rate of $0.04 per word. We offer turnaround times ranging from from 24 hours to 7 days, with 9- and 13-hour express turnaround times also available. Our standard admissions essay proofreading and editing begins at $0.02 per word with similar turnaround times.
Wordvice has an average client review rating of 4.9 on Google Star Ratings and 4.5 on Trustpilot.
Use our citation generator for APA, MLA, Chicago, and Vancouver styles to ensure accurate reference and formatting styles.
Regardless of the turnaround time, document type, or total word count of your document, Wordvice guarantees professional editing by an editor with expertise in the subject area or topic of your work. In fact, we guarantee 100% language accuracy and will work to revise your document until we have met your expectations. Visit our Pricing page to receive an instant price quotation.
Frequently Asked Questions about Editing and Proofreading
Editing involves improving the overall writing quality to make a written work as strong, clear, and professional as possible. Editors use more creativity and consider the intentions of the author and the needs of the reader when revising the work. Editing can result in more extensive changes to the text, including rephrasing and changes in key vocabulary terms.
Wordvice provides an instant editing and proofreading price quotation, with academic editing starting at $0.04 per word. Calculate your price by entering your document type, preferred turnaround time, and your document’s word count.
When applying, you may be evaluated using a sample editing test to determine your ability to identify and fix objective errors, revise vocabulary terms, and rephrase to enhance the readability and impact of the writing. To improve your editing acumen, you can take a professional editing and proofreading course or join a professional editing organization.
If you think you have the skills and experience to revise academic and admissions documents professionally, apply as a freelance editor with Wordvice today.