When polished, professional communication is important to you, your digital content needs both editing and proofreading. They are different stages of the writing-to-publishing process. The service you need depends on how much editing you have done (if any), what remains, and your aims, timeline, and budget.
Here is an overview of what each service addresses:
- Structure and flow
- Clarity, consistency, readability
- Voice and tone
- Brand and style guide match
- Writing errors and inconsistencies
- Word use and bias
- Spelling, grammar, typos
- Consistent language
- Consistent, correct formatting
- Final polish
Editing is the first step to ready your draft for publication. It may require light, medium, or heavy editing, and multiple passes may be necessary.
We’ll skip discussion of developmental or structural vs. line or stylistic vs. content or copyediting here. That gets into the weeds and they can overlap. For now, it’s enough to say: some writing needs more work, some less.
And even self-edited copy can benefit from a fresh set of eyes. The writer is too close to their own writing and can easily overlook issues.
Once editing is complete, you will need at least one proofreading pass to make sure your content is publication ready.
Keep in mind that crossover occurs organically between services. Typos are often spotted and corrected during editing. The occasional inconsistency, incorrect word, or other problem goes undetected until proofreading. But each stage serves its own purpose.
Proof-editing is a term you may have seen for doing everything in a single pass. This does not actually remove the need for both editing and proofreading, however, so it is essential to understand its limitations. A proof-edit is effectively one pass of light editing and no final proofreading. When turnaround time or budget is tight, though, this compromise beats no quality check at all.
Not Sure? No Worries
It gets confusing; I know. Let me look at a sample of your content and make a recommendation.
This is a Judgment-Free Zone
No spelling and grammar police to shame you. You have spent time and effort on (even poured your heart into) your writing. I am here to care for it with respect and sensitivity. And to make sure your unique voice shines through.
The Result is the Important Thing
An editor’s goal is to help your content be the best it can be. To make you look good, build credibility, and have the impact you seek. Whether you are growing your audience, selling products and services, or serving members and donors — polished, professional communication is key.