Proofreading or Editing? How to Pick the Best Service for Your Needs
  • 5-minute read
  • 5th October 2023

Proofreading or Editing? How to Pick the Best Service for Your Needs

Whether you’re crafting a blog post, a research paper, or a novel, a crucial step to ensure your work shines is review and refinement. This often leads to a common dilemma: Should you opt for proofreading or editing services?

Are they the same thing, or do they serve different purposes? And which one do you need for your specific project? In this post, we’ll address these questions to help you choose the best service for your needs.

Are Proofreading and Editing the Same Thing?

Before you make a decision, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between proofreading and editing. While both services focus on improving your written work, they have distinct purposes, which we’ll describe in detail. These distinctions are important to know before hiring an editor, but they also apply to self-editing.


Editing is a more comprehensive process that occurs before proofreading. Editors work on improving the overall quality and clarity of your writing. They address issues such as sentence structure, clarity, consistency, and style. Editors may also suggest revisions to enhance the flow and coherency of your content.

There are different levels of the editing process, beginning with developmental editing (which is sometimes called content editing or substantive editing).

Developmental editors look at the big picture, considering the organization of the text and whether the concepts and ideas – or narrative and plot – are presented and explained clearly.

Line editors work sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, looking closely at the smaller-picture details. Copy editing carefully examines syntax, grammar, clarity, and transitions at the sentence and paragraph levels.


Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process. It primarily involves checking for errors in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and typos. A proofreader’s role is to ensure your document is free of mistakes, polishing it for publication or submission.

What Comes First: Proofreading or Editing?

The sequence of proofreading and editing is crucial for producing a well-crafted document. Here’s the recommended order:

Editing First

Start with editing to address substantive issues in your content. This includes refining the overall structure, coherence, and clarity of your writing. Editors will work on improving the flow of your ideas and ensuring you convey your message effectively.

Proofreading After Editing

Once your document has undergone editing, it’s time for proofreading. Proofreaders will meticulously review your text for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and typographical errors. This step ensures that your polished content is error-free and ready for the final audience.

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Do I Need an Editor or a Proofreader?

To determine whether you need an editor or a proofreader, consider the following factors:

1. Project Type

●  If you’re working on a lengthy manuscript, research paper, or novel, hiring an editor is beneficial. They can help you shape your content and refine your writing style.

●  For shorter pieces like blog posts, articles, or business documents, proofreading may catch surface-level errors, but it won’t accomplish an editor’s job. If you think the content needs review at a structural level or the grammar and syntax need work, you should still work with both an editor and a proofreader, regardless of the length of the piece.

2. Writing Experience

●  If you’re a seasoned writer with a good grasp of grammar and style, you might opt for proofreading to catch minor errors.

●  If writing isn’t your strong suit, or even if it is, an editor can provide valuable guidance to improve your writing overall and provide another perspective. An editor won’t do a proofreader’s job, so don’t think in terms of whether you need an editor instead of a proofreader – consider whether you need an editor in addition to a proofreader.

3. Budget

●  While it’s common to hire two separate people for proofreading and editing, sometimes bundled services are available at a discounted rate. This may be an acceptable solution, but you’ll miss out on having a fresh pair of eyes from a proofreader with this option.

4. Timeframe

●  Consider your project’s timeline. If you’re working under a tight deadline, proofreading might be a quicker option to ensure your work is polished for immediate publication, but factoring in the editing process ahead of time is a good idea.

In the quest to produce high-quality written content, choosing between proofreading and editing services is a decision that should be made thoughtfully. Remember that these services serve distinct purposes, and the choice depends on your specific needs, project type, which phase of the project you’re working on, and budget. Whether you opt for proofreading, editing, or both, investing in professional assistance can elevate your writing and make a lasting impression on your readers.

We offer expert proofreading and editing services tailored to your needs. From a light proofread to an in-depth edit, our editing specialists will give your work a final polish to let your words shine. Curious to try us out? Learn more about our proofreading services and editing services or submit a 500-word sample for free proofreading today!

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