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The difference between editing, proofreading and copy-editing

Whether you’ve finally finished your magnum opus or you’ve just knocked out a last-minute brochure for your business, reading through your work before you publish it is essential. But what if you want to find a decent editor in Singapore to do it for you? Do you know what service you’re really looking for?

Many people wrongly assume editing, proofreading and copy-editing are the same thing. The fact is, you need an editor AND a proofreader at different stages in the editing process.

Here’s our foolproof guide to the different services you may need for a perfect finished product:

Editing

Hire an editor when the basic structure of your work is complete, but you want to improve the general quality, clarity and flow of your writing. Be prepared: editors may remove redundant words or entire sections completely, totally rewrite sections, or recommend greater structural changes to improve the flow of your text.

Of course, editors are looking out for small mistakes too, such as grammar and punctuation errors and typos, but the fine-tooth comb really comes out at the proofreading stage. No publication should go to print after just one round of editing – it almost certainly won’t be enough to make it perfect!

Editors:

  • tighten your text to make sure you don’t rely on one word or phrase too often. They also check that sentence lengths and structure vary and that information flows logically.
  • check that you are targeting the text at the right audience.
  • ensure that you are communicating the message as intended without jargon or other issues that will affect understanding.

Proofreading

The proofreading stage occurs after editing to ensure there are NO errors in the text. This stage is crucial, particularly if you’re planning to send something to print and you’re not just publishing it online. At least with the latter, you can go back and make changes at a later date. You reeeeally don’t want to spent hundreds of $$$ on 10,000 printed brochures only to realise you’ve spelt your email address wrong.

A proofreader will review your document for spelling errors, punctuation errors and typos, plus ensure consistency in text (e.g. UK or US English) as well as consistency in formatting.

This stage in the process is often done by hand when a sample version is ready (either a PDF or hard copy). You may see some funny squiggles on the page when you get the document back – these are proofreaders’ marks, which are shorthand symbols to denote specific errors that need fixing. You can easily find what these mean online.

Proofreaders:

  • check for small errors or typos.
  • go beyond Microsoft Word’s spellchecker to ensure an error-free publication.

Copy-editing

Copy-editing is basically the lovechild of editing and proofreading. A copy-editor ensures consistency of style and flow with other content from your company or publication. They also check facts based on specialised knowledge in your field.

Copy-editors should know your style guide inside out and do the proper research to ensure stuff like names, locations and dates are referenced consistently.

Copy-editors:

  • check grammar, syntax and punctuation.
  • ensure consistency in spelling and presentation.
  • check facts and continuity of information.

Got it? Good! You’re ready to go forth and find the perfect editor, proofreader or copy-editor in Singapore! (*cough cough* why not try us?)

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