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A Proofreader Or An Editor - Who You Gonna' Call

By Expert Author: Roger Jenkins

Your masterpiece is finished! Or is it? Are you absolutely sure? Not one typo? Not one misplaced comma or quotation mark? Not one misspelled word? Not one misunderstood meaning?
Ah, but you're a colossally creative genius-a writer-not a fastidiously focused editor or proofreader.
Then, considering that even one mistake can leave a lasting sour impression (or a terrible first impression), perhaps it's time to seek out one final perfection-seeking review of your manuscript.
But do you call an editor or a proofreader?
Since these two professions are not created equal, that would depend on your specific needs.
Editing is the effort to ensure that the writer's fundamental message is presented to the reader as effectively (and successfully) as possible. Generally, editing involves rewriting pieces and parts (and, sometimes, major chunks) of written documents with the following goals:
clarity of the message;
clear expression of the document's intent and purpose;
accuracy of information (in relation to the ideas being presented);
appropriateness and consistency of tone and mood;
effective use of language (word choices, etc.); and
overall coherence of the intended message.
Basically, editing is the "macro" effort of ensuring that the work's overall theme and tone, and message and meaning, is cohesive and correct. An editor needs to be able to creatively and intuitively beef up or trim down, fill in or file down (or file away), the words in order to ensure that the work, on its grandest scale, meets the intent and purpose of the original writer.
Proofreading, on the other hand, involves intense and precise focus on each-and-every word, each-and-every sentence, and each-and-every paragraph in a document. Proofreading focuses on the details of:
typographical errors;
correct and consistent use of language;
correct and consistent use of relevant style requirements; and
professional appearance.
Basically, proofreading is the "micro" effort of ensuring that the work-each and every word and comma and apostrophe-is precisely perfect and absolutely error-free. This work takes a practiced, critical eye that most writers, and perhaps even most editors, do not have. This is especially true when it comes to attempting to correct their own words; their own work.
So who do you call? An editor or a proofreader?
If you're looking for perfection in overall theme, texture, and tone, then you might want to call an editor.
If you're looking for perfection in detail, then you might want to call a proofreader.
If you're looking for perfection, large and small (and you have the time, ego-strength, and financial capability), then call them both (or, if you're lucky, one person who can do both).
It's your masterpiece. Make the right call.


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