Differences Among Revision, Editing, Proofreading

Updated on May 2, 2016

Revision, Editing, Proofreading: What's the difference?

Do you know the difference between proofreading, editing, revision, and other writing services? If not, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people confuse proofreading with editing and revision, thinking that they all mean the same, however, as you will learn, the difference between these and other writing services are largely different and why there might be a contrast in prices when pursuing the services of a professional language service provider.

As stated above, many people confuse these three processes, believing that each process is all one and the same, however, there are stark and well-defined differences among the three processes that go into the refining of a text or document prior to its publishing. Some even add a fourth step – reviewing.

REP: Revision, Editing, Proofreading.

Revision, Editing, Proofreading
Revision, Editing, Proofreading

First things first: asking the important questions.

At many writing service companies (also known as language service providers), a number of steps are implemented in order to ensure the accuracy of a document’s message, which is usually carried out in three separate, but equally and vitally important processes. These steps are taken in order to ensure that the message is not hindered by needless wordiness, grammar, or syntax errors, that can be noticed by a professional editor.

The first step that any good editor, worth their weight in gold, will take is to look at the big picture and ask themselves these four essential questions:

1) Does the text of the document respond directly to the task at hand and to its audience?

2) Does it answer all of the questions?

3) Are there any holes in the document that need to be patched?

4) "Should an idea or point that was raised be further developed?

The beginning stage of the process: document revision

The first stage of the process is known as revision.

In short, it means to re-see or re-imagine the document as a whole. It means to take entire sentences and paragraphs and rewrite them from scratch in order to add emphasis to certain points or topics within the bigger picture. The revision of a document sets out to address each important point according to the order of concern. (Organization, audience, development, support, etc). Revision checks and double-checks that the document meets the requirements of the assignment and addresses each of the questions and concerns that an audience could potentially pose while reading or listening to the text being read aloud.

Revision and Editing differences
Revision and Editing differences

Second Stage: document editing

Once the editor has finished revising the document, she, or he, will begin working on the second part of the process which, in most cases, involves the editing of the document. As a side note -- based on my personal experience working in the translation and language service industry, It is this process that is often confused with revision, often getting lumped together, even by some language service professionals; though, as noted above, they are two different and mutually exclusive functions, but each one just as important as the other in the entire process.

The editing stage ensures that the wording of the document is coherent; that is is easily understood by its audience and that the “style” of the entire text isn't uneven or rumpled like a fine suit that is out of place. It focuses its attention on individual words and sentences, by addressing lower order concerns; It scrutinizes each word of the document, it seeks to clarify as well as bring some clarity to seemingly conflicting points that may be difficult to understand. The process of editing a document also includes looking for ways to make a long-winded document, or speech, shorter, more concise, and possibly taking out certain phrases or parts of sentences that may be too wordy or add very little to the entire text, without compromising the meaning or the message being conveyed by the author.

Tips and strategies for proofreading

proofreading strategies
proofreading strategies

A savvy editor will carefully refine the document by correcting any awkward phrases that may have sneaked their way onto the document during the initial draft or during the revision process. In a nutshell, editing is a lot like making sure that each point and idea is properly connected to the next and works to create one big picture, without being too wordy or losing its intended audience in the process.

document proofreading
document proofreading

Third stage: document proofreading

The third and (usually) last stage in the refining of a well-written document – irrespective of subject matter – whether it be a speech, a technical manual, or even a novel, is proofreading

The process of proofreading is comprised of checking, adjusting, and taking corrective action, one last time, in order to make sure that that all loose ends have been properly tied together. This is the process in which the editor is specifically looking for any errors in grammar, structure, verb tense, spelling, and punctuation.

It is during this process that editors and proofreaders will examine the entire document with a careful eye before the final draft is sent to its author any last minute suggestions or final approval.

Do you have any questions or comments after reading this article? Please feel free to share your thoughts on this topic or leave your questions below.

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