What is the difference between editing and proofreading?

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in Education & Language by
In detail, break down the differences between proofreading and editing?  Does copy-editing encompass both?  When does one cross over into the other?  How differently are they priced?

5 Answers

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Proofreaders make no changes to content beyond correction of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. They do not evaluate whether words, paragraphs, or entire scenes are necessary or properly placed. All they do is fix every mistake, which takes a certain skill set in knowing what's not correct in the first place.

Editing may incorporate proofreading, but editorial skills tend to be focused on content. Whether you copy edit at a daily paper or edit a novel, your bottom line is making the work the best it can be for the intended readership.

Rates vary, but you can expect to pay by the page (250 words) or by the hour.

"Common rates reported to us by our members fall within the ranges indicated below. They should be used only as a rough guideline; rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors."

Copyediting, basic:     5–10 ms pages/hour,      $20–35/hour

Copyediting, heavy:     2–5 ms pages/hour,      $25–50/hour

Proofreading:     3–10 ms pages/hour, $20-35/hour
Source(s): http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.html
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The term "editing" covers a lot of territory. There's copy editing, which is only looking for misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, and other problems with the mechanics of writing (also includes fact-checking).

Developmental editing taking a bigger picture view--developing the story and structure of the work.

There is also sort of general editing, which is more detailed than developmental, but less limited than copy editing (although it will likely include copy editing). This level of editing would include more style issues, point out logic problems, etc.

Technically, proofreading is none of this. Once a book has been through the editing and copyediting processes, it's sent off to a typesetter or compositor. They produce page proofs--a set of pages that shows how the book will appear in its final form.  The proofreader compares these *proofs* to the file that was sent to the typesetter, to catch any errors that might have been introduced. In real proofreading, there are two sets of pages--one from the typesetter, and one from the publisher (with all the errors found by the copy editor fixed--this set should be as close to perfect as possible)--side by side. The proofreader looks for things like words hyphenated incorrectly at the end of a line, widows & orphans, broken type (less of an issue now that most proofs are digitally produced), layout problems, running heads, etc.

Most people equate proofreading with copy editing, but this is incorrect. Especially within the publishing industry.

Pricing depends greatly on what kind of editing you're talking about, how much experience the editor has, and what kind of material is being edited. Heavy duty editing will be more expensive than copy editing.
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Editing means strengthening a manuscript by cutting out some things, asking the author to include other things, by maintaining the unity of the writing and by working with the writer to improve the manuscript.

Proofreading means going through the completed manuscript and correcting errors in spelling, grammar, checking dates and things of that sort.

Copy editing is editing - it's just another way of describing an editor's job, but copy editor is often used to refer to newspaper copy, while editor refers to book manuscripts - that's not in use everywhere, but it is found in some places.

Editors will pick up small errors in grammar and spelling while they are working with text, so in that sense, there is some cross-over, but the proofreader never changes copy - only corrects errors.

How are they priced? I don't know what you mean by that. Do you mean what do they earn? It depends entirely on where they work - both in terms of geography and in terms of what part of the publishing industry they work in. The person who edits the sports page of a community newspaper isn't going to get the same salary as someone at one of the top book publishing companies who handles best sellers.
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Proof reading is when you read over your work and check for errors..and editing is when you make edits to your writing and fix up the errors
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Proofreading consists of checking for typos, grammatical errors, and inconsistencies. Editing might involve rewriting or reformatting entire sections to make the work better contextually.