Editing and Proofreading and Formatting! Oh My!

Have you told a friend to proofread your paper and what you got back was something totally different? It can be both really confusing and frustrating if you don’t understand what editing and proofreading mean and you don’t get the results you want. Editing and proofreading have the same function but are completed in different ways, but you can also proofread formatting as well. Let’s start with proofreading.

Proofreading is taking a writing and making markings that note changes that need to be made in order to have the writing be both grammatically correct and a cohesive piece in formatting. With proofreading, you are not making the changes but simply writing on top of it with markings that tell the writer the grammar, spelling, and formatting changes that need to be made.

Below is a chart of the standard markings you will see when you ask another writer to proofread your writing:

Because this is typed rather than marked with a pen, this is how a proofreader would mark up the title of this blog:

Editing, and Proofreading, and Formatting! Oh My!

Proofreading is very beneficial if you want to help an individual see their weak spots in writing. The notations help the writer see how they can improve with verb tenses and punctuation. Growing up, I personally struggled with keeping the same verb tense in my papers, but my dad, who was also a great writer, would proofread all my papers with that dreaded red pen. With some explanation and those red markings, I was able to overcome the struggle to keep verb tenses the same unless the tense change applies properly.

Now let’s talk about formatting. Formatting is the appearance of the writing you create. The formatting you would find in your writing includes:

  • Table of Contents
  • Page Numbers
  • Headings
  • Font Type and Size
  • Quotations and References

Now we’re ready to talk about editing. Editing is taking proofreading but going a step further and completing the markings for the writer, so the paper will look clean with both correct grammar and formatting. Not only that, you may also find that when the editor makes changes on the writer’s paper, they make sure that they keep the writer’s voice when they make slight changes, such as moving phrases around or removing words. A good editor also makes sure that the tone and style along with other important parts of the paper other than formatting and proofreading are consistent, cohesive, and easy to understand. Let’s take that title we used for this blog post and edit it.

Editing and Proofreading and Formatting! Oh My! 

Editing, Proofreading, and Formatting! Oh My!

Before you go, there is one more thing! Just because the editor makes the changes for the writer doesn’t mean the editor won’t include suggestions to the writer to improve the paper. As with editing, proofreading, and formatting, suggestions are an opportunity to make your writing even better.