The Difference between Editing, Proofreading, or Revising

A few years ago, I would have thought that editing, proofreading, and revising were the same thing. i would have have used the terms interchangeably, and I would have been wrong.

Editing, proofreading, and revising are each a separate process that contributes to the finished product in its own way. If you plan to uses the services of an editor, then the definitions below will help you tell said editor what you really want done with you manuscript.

Revising is the reading of your manuscript to organize your thoughts on paper to match the thoughts in your mind. Revising takes place at the level of the sentence, paragraph or higher.

Editing tests each word and phrase to see that it is accurate, appropriate, or necessary, changing the language more than the ideas. Editing is more stylized and mechanical work, taking place at the level of the sentence or word.

Proofreading is checking the manuscript for accuracy and correctness. The last phase of the editing process, proofreading should be completed after the conceptual and stylistic concerns have been addressed. You review spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and usage to make sure no careless mistakes.

As an Author, I find it good practice to revise before you edit. First, in revising you may cut out whole sections of the draft because they no longer suit your manuscript. If you have already edited those now-deleted sections, all that careful work goes to naught. Two, once you have invested time in carefully editing sentences, you become reluctant to cut them, even though these sections may no longer suit your purpose.

8 thoughts on “The Difference between Editing, Proofreading, or Revising

  1. If it doesn’t work in the book, I toss it. I have no trouble doing that. I struggle from the first word to the last and am ever so glad when the book is done.
    I am formatting a book for ebook and I wish it was shorter. I had finished it a few years ago and hadn’t looked at it since. It is a book for adults, not kids.
    What I found was that it is a good book. I had thought it wasn’t because a so called friend had said nothing about it after she read it. Well, it turns out she’s malicious and I only recently found out.
    This was a positive experience because I saw that I had done the book right and all struggle over things was good.
    It’s like editing a movie. Throw it out if it doesn’t progress the plot. That’s where a book or movie will bog down, lose credibility and lose the reader or viewer.
    I’d say, put the tossed stuff into a document and save it. You never know, down the road when it well could fit into another story.
    I used to get typo blindness and would put a book aside and then go over it again. I would then see the typos.


    • I keep all my extras too. From two different books I’ve taken out whole scenes out that don’t work with the book and made them into short teasers that I’ve put up for free or $.99 depending on the store it was in. I’ve even added them to the end of the books as bonus material if they still work with the story but just didn’t add any value to the story. Otherwise I just save it and use it in another story if it works. Everything has it’s value. 😀


  2. I’ve been revising as I’ve gone along before the edits. And I’ve had ideas that I’ve tossed out, which might serve well later on in another book, so they’ve been filed away.


  3. Pingback: Link: The Difference… « The Cuckoo Club Archives

  4. Neat post. I like the succinct way you clarify the processes. Too often it’s tempting to over-explain things, and then we lose clarity. Linked to it over on my blog.


  5. Pingback: I’ve been reading a lot of manuscripts lately « Estherlou's Blog

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