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Academic Skills Essentials: Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading

Are editing and proofreading the same thing? 

Editing and proofreading are not the same thing. 


What is editing?  

Editing involves going over your writing, and changing things to make sure that your content is presented as clearly as possible, structured appropriately and has a suitable style. It is a broad process concerned with:

  • content
  • clarity
  • logic of argument, structure and style.


What is proofreading?

Proofreading is a final micro process where you read for:

  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • grammatical errors.


Can these skills be learnt?

The good news is these skills can be learnt. With practice, you will become experts at editing and proofreading your work.

Here are some tips for editing and proofreading your work:

  • Leave the text alone for at least 24 hours - so you can approach it with fresh eyes.
  • Edit and proofread from a printed copy of the text – you will find many more errors compared to reading on the screen.
  • Change the look of the document –font size, spacing which should help you spot even more mistakes.
  • Find a quiet place without distractions – so you can focus.
  • Read the text aloud – many students find this a more effective way of correcting their grammar.
  • Work in short blocks of time – Less than 20 minutes.
  • Keep a personal list of your common errors and check these off as you check your work.


Which of the students below has the best approach to writing? Click on the student with the best approach to writing.

You are correct! Writing assignments is not a one step process but one marked by constant revision of a piece of work until it is ready for submission. Although Student A makes up to 15 drafts, there is no magic number.

You are incorrect.  Unlike writing exams where students are expected to provide the ‘right’ answers under tight time constraints, assignments require students to start work weeks before the due date and spend time editing their work many times and proofreading it just before submission.

You are incorrect. There is no such thing as a writer who can write so well that there is no need to edit or proofread their work before they submit. Even the most well published academics write many drafts before submitting to a journal for publication.