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Goals for editing and proofreading

Wayne McMaster

8 October 2015

Editing and proofreading are often overlooked, but they are the critical final stages of the writing process for company brochures, product literature and websites. Even the smallest error can result in embarrassing or even costly outcome (misspelling a name, transposing digits in a telephone number) — and ultimately damage your brand — so taking time and care to check what you have written is essential, before supplying copy to your design agency!


To many people, editing and proofreading are one and the same thing. There is, however, a distinct difference between the two.

Editing and Proofreading

Editing is the first task that should be undertaken after finishing the first draft of a piece of text. It involves checking the content of the text to ensure that the ideas are expressed clearly and logically, and form a coherent and meaningful whole. Proofreading involves checking over the text in finer detail after the editing stage, to detect errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar and format.

Proofreading is not merely casting a glance over what you have written: it requires concentration to disconnect your mind from the content of the text in order to focus on the language and layout. Errors can be difficult to spot, so it is essential to read the text word by word to ensure that you don’t miss anything as it involves correcting small errors (some of which can, nevertheless, have a major impact), it does not require major rewriting. The aim of proofreading is to spot and correct errors inspelling, typography, grammar, punctuation & use of language, style & format and anything missed at the editing stage.

Editing Goals

Editing requires focusing on the content of the text. The key goals are to check that the text:

  1. flows logically is coherent and consistent
  2. forms a meaningful whole
  3. is clearly expressed
  4. is accurate in the information it provides
  5. has an appropriate tone
  6. is concise
  7. makes its purpose clear
  8. is targeted towards the reader

Proofreading Goals

Proofreading is not merely casting a glance over what you have written. The key goals are to check that the text:

  1. spelling
  2. typography
  3. grammar, punctuation and use of language
  4. style and format
  5. anything missed at the editing stage

What we find helpful is applying the 'proof readers marks to make the necessary changes to a document during our proofing process. Here is a useful chart of many of  the proof readers marks.

Proof reading

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