Defining Proofreading and Editing Services for Businesses, Writers & Students

At Precise, we get asked a lot of questions about proofreading and editing. Like… What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? Are they really that much different? The answer is YES.

Proofreading (also called “proofing”), editing, and copyediting are often thought to be identical services. The truth is that each indicates different levels of service. The service you choose will depend on whether you want someone to simply check for punctuation and grammatical errors or improve your overall writing. And of course, each increasing level of services come at an increasing price because you are paying for a higher skill level.



Proofreading, or proofing, is usually performed on a final draft of a document to ensure that no embarrassing errors remain in the document. If you still have work to do on your document, it wouldn’t make sense to proof it before it’s ready. You’ll just need to pay to have the work performed again.

Proofreading includes checking for correct spelling, proper grammar, capitalization, diction, punctuation, syntax, and misused words. We also conduct a basic document/manuscript overview to check for proper document formatting and for widows and orphans (words left on a line by themselves or single lines from a paragraph left alone at the top or bottom of a page). While proofreading, we also check for subject/verb agreement, extra spaces between words or sentences, unnecessary punctuation, and proper use of acronyms, abbreviations, and quotations. We delineate between proper use of an en dash vs. an em dash, as well as compound words, hyphenated words, and open compound words. If you have a table of contents, we’ll confirm that headings and page numbers match your content.

[pullquote]Proofreading, or proofing, is usually performed on a final draft of a document.[/pullquote]

Proofreading can be performed either online using track changes in Microsoft Word or on a hard copy (pen and paper) using traditional proofreading symbols. You or your proofreader can decide which method works best depending on preference and convenience.

Hiring a professional proofreader is essential if English is not your first language or if you are not confident in your writing style or ability.

proofreading and editing

BONUS: During proofreading, we’ll perform a visual check of your document to ensure text and art alignment (all headings, subheadings, body text, etc.), text flow, as well as font and style consistency. We’ll also verify that any art matches your text and captions and that any tables or figures are formatted properly.



Editing services are performed as your next-to-last-step (before your final proofread). The editing process involves a deeper dig into your document for style, flow, clarity, and conciseness. Sentences can be recast or entire paragraphs rewritten. You may need information to be better organized or rearranged. In addition to these services, editing includes spot-checking facts for accuracy and providing suggestions to further improve your document (e.g., word choice, sentence structure, and overall document flow) and even rewrite limited portions of text as necessary. While a good editor will also proofread as they are editing, their main focus is to help you create the best document possible.

[pullquote]Editing services are performed as your next-to-last-step—before your final proofread.[/pullquote]


Copyediting involves both editing and proofreading in accordance with a particular style, such as AP, CMS, APA, MLA, and corporate style guides. This type of editing is commonly used for academic and professional works. A copyeditor may also be required to have knowledge in a specific field.

In essence, proofreading focuses on the small details, removing any egregious and potentially embarrassing or offensive errors from your document. Editing focuses on the overall work, further strengthening your document for the utmost professional presentation. Copyediting involves editing for a specific style. The service you choose depends on your needs and your individual abilities. If you are a decent writer, you may only need a basic proofread at the end. If you are less confident in your writing or organizational abilities, you may want to opt for a full edit.

Is there a question we haven’t answered? Post a comment; we’ll be glad to help.
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Nikki Corbett Precise Be Smarter Now

Nikki Corbett is owner of Precise and
Be Smarter Now, wordsmith, writer,
editor, poet, and mom. She developed
a love
of writing and the English language
early in life and has been writing stories
since she could pick up a pencil. She
holds degrees in Communications/
Journalism as well as Creative
Writing and Business Administration.
@ncwritermom @ncpoetess

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