Proofreading is an essential part of all writing projects. It is what is done after all the ideas have been organized and put on paper, and before it is presented as a finished product. This is where spelling and grammatical errors are caught. Most of these can be identified by the Spell/Grammar Check feature that has become a standard on word processing programs. However, it is important to note that this feature does not catch every mistake.
It is best to get someone else to read over your work because as the writer you are more likely to read what you meant rather than what you actually wrote. A good proofreader can catch the spelling, grammatical, and word choice errors your handy little Spell-check misses. Every body of writing needs a proofreading, but some require more, like a good editing.
Editing involves proofreading, but it goes beyond checking for spelling and grammatical errors. Basic editing, referred to as line editing, is the fine-tooth proofreading that can not be done by any computer because it involves understanding meaning and intent. A computer reads “your” and deems it correctly spelled, which it is, however, in the sentence it should read “you’re.” It still takes human eyes to see and a human brain to understand that.
Editing can be a straight forward process of review and correct such as copy editing, or it can be an interactive process to improve the over all quality of the writing like substantive editing. Here are some of the things editing looks at:
- Writing mechanics – This includes spelling, word choice, punctuation, and other grammatical elements.
- Flow and Pacing – Making sure each paragraph relates logically to the next and that the writing progress in a steady manner, keeping the reader’s interest.
- Continuity – When working on a manuscript particularly it is important to ensure that all your details match up over the course of the story. This also applies to technical writing to ensure that directions are placed in the correct order and that all necessary information is present.
- Plot Development – This is where plot holes can be identified, and suggestions for resolving any hang-ups can be offered.
- Character Development – How fleshed out are your characters, and how do they evolve as the story progresses? Some characters require a kind of psychological exorcism to work out the demons of writing, while others require a little more life breathed into them.
- Fact Checking – Some editing involves going behind the writer to insure that facts being quoted are correct.
- Conformity to Applicable Standards – Writing standards exist for every kind of writing from essay to manuscript. Additionally there are nuances between publications. Does your writing fit the format?
All writers know to proofread; it is one of the basic things we are taught in school. However, all writers can benefit from the services of an editor. There are many aspects to editing, and it can be a collaborative process that leaves the credit with the writer. Proofread to correct, but edit to improve.