Difference between editing and proofreading

April 20, 2018
April 20, 2018 Maria

Proofreading and Editing from an Alien’s Point of View

Thousands of years ago, humanity developed a system of conveying and preserving ideas and information. That system was called writing. Over time, as this system became more sophisticated, the scribblers struggled to create an “ideal text.” Later, translators applied this attitude to the documents that they translated. Eventually, the skills of proofreading and editing were developed and honed in an effort to create the ideal text.

An ideal translation is one that has passed through excellent editorial and proofreading scrutiny. It is free of any stylistic, grammatical, or typographical errors. It is utterly bereft of any grammatical redundancy, and the ideas expressed progress rationally. This means that during translation, both processes are essential.

editing and proofreading

Editing is the process of preparing a translated text for publication by correcting and modifying it until it is considered ready for publication. Proofreading involves searching a completed document for typographical errors and simple mistakes in style, spelling, and grammar before it is released to an audience.

Editors and proofreaders may argue over which of these steps is more important, but none of the arguments are entirely valid—both processes are essencial.

Editing is a crucial part of translation quality assurance process. It is usually done in cooperation with a translator.


  • It helps to give a text balance, correcting contextual mistakes.
  • It rids the text of any redundancies and ensures that a document doesn’t sound like a translation, but instead sounds as if it was originally written in the target language.
  • It assures that the ideas expressed progress rationally from one stage to another. This makes the text clearer and a lot more pleasant to read.
  • It verifies the facts in a document.
  • It ensures that the wording and terminology correspond to the style of the source text.

This process holds power to turn a seemingly ordinary piece of work into an excellent one and reach a much broader audience.

During proofreading, the editor scans the work for typographical errors, stylistic mistakes, and general overuse or insufficient use of grammatical structures and expressions.


  • It improves the general readability of the text.
  • It ensures that necessary cross-references are present in a document.
  • It checks for inconsistencies in layout and content.
  • It assures that captions, labels, and illustrations correspond with each other and the text.

In today’s world, this part of the process is often done by translation quality assurance software. It assists human editors and performs fast and accurate checks for the most common errors.

Nevertheless, a professional editor must still read through the work. Even if software substitutes for humans in the future for proofreading, the human editor will always reign supreme. Only a human can fully understand the nuances that are contained in writing.

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