Do You Know What on Earth Is Proofreading?

By: | November 5, 2019 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Paper True review and Scribendi review

What on Earth is Proofreading?

Your manuscript has gone through the wringer multiple times, but it is now time for the final wringer that will leave it clean, polished, and error-free. There are an exhaustive number of steps to free your manuscript from errors. Different kinds of errors need to be addressed through different approaches. Proofreading is the final step of any publishing process. However, a lot of you are confused about what proofreading actually is and how it is done. 

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the final step in the publishing process of any manuscript that ensures the clarity of the finished book. It is a surface level check where the editor looks for spelling errors, grammatical inconsistencies and such. Proofreaders check the final copy or ‘proof’ using special proofreading tools or the ‘track changes’ feature on Google Docs or MS Word. They mark the changes using specific proofreading marks. 

Ideally, a writer should go through the whole editing process first and then proofread. 

Proofreading FAQs:

What is proofreading?

A proofreader reads and marks errors on a piece of writing. Proofreading is the final step of the publishing process.

Are editing and proofreading the same?

No, they are not the same. Editing gives you a chance to improve your writing. Proofreading is the final stage of revision.

What Does Proofreading Do?

The following are the major inconsistencies and errors that proofreading will check:

  1. Formatting errors: The common formatting errors that proofreaders check are misplaced page numbers, inconsistent headers and footers, incorrectly cited material or cited material that is incorrect, inconsistent paragraph indents, and spaces.
  2. Incorrect punctuation: Proofreaders check missing or wrongly placed commas, incorrect use of apostrophes and en and em dashes (The en dash is slightly longer than the hyphen but not as long as the em dash), confusion between colon and semi-colon, and use of the Oxford comma. 
  3. Spelling errors: Misuse of prepositions, confusion between homophones as well as definite and indefinite articles, and wrong synonyms are checked by the proofreader.
  4. Stylistic errors: Confusion between UK and US conventions of spelling and grammar, incorrect numbers, and inconsistent capitalization are a part of stylistic errors that proofreaders pay specific attention to. 

Proofreading vs Editing

What is the difference between proofreading and editing?

Proofreading and editing are two parts of the same process, except that they are often interchanged by people talking about them. Editing is different from proofreading in a host of ways.

Editing checks for structural inconsistencies, such as the plot going off-track in certain areas, improper construction of your story, and flat characters. It is a more focused attempt to shape the story and concept. Proofreading, on the other hand, checks for finer inconsistencies of grammar.

Proofreading is a type of editing, but it is very different from the actual, literal meaning of the term.

We can split editing into 4 main types:

  • Developmental editing: Checks story and plot development, character sketches, plot holes, and inconsistent storylines.
  • Structural editing: Pace, sectioning, and objective analysis of the plot.
  • Copyediting: Checks for incorrect facts, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, POV inconsistencies, and descriptive inconsistencies.
  • Line editing: Meticulous line-by-line editing, checks for spelling errors, style and flow, awkward and repetitive phrases, and abrupt sentences. 

Why Do You Need Proofreading? 

Proofreading is generally looked at as an easy, stress-free exercise. But this is not true. Proofreading involves a lot of hard work, minute scrutiny, and the stress of realizing that this is the final stamp on a book that will go into print. 

Some things to keep in mind if you are proofreading the document yourself are as follows:

  • Don’t rely on spelling checkers: Spelling checkers automatically correct to the UK or US conventions of spelling (whichever is the default system setting). There are some words that you might want to keep for literary effect, but they might be grammatically incoherent. These kinds of words might be corrected by the spell checker, which might remove the purpose of that entire sentence and the subsequent paragraph.
  • Proofread for only one error at a time: If you try to proofread for every error all at once, you will be confused and probably miss out on minor errors. It is much easier to catch spelling errors when you are not checking for grammar and punctuation errors. 
  • Circle each and every punctuation mark.
  • Keep a dictionary handy: There might be a lot of errors that are new and unfamiliar. For identifying these, it is better that you keep one near you. 
  • Read the document backwards: When we read our own work, our brain automatically corrects the sentences even if they are not, making us impervious to any minor mistakes. For you to break this pattern, read the sentences backwards so that it is easier for you to identify the errors. 
  • Get the document proofread by someone else: No matter how minutely you check your manuscript, you will need a second set of eyes to go through it. This is why you should give someone else a go before you finalize that this is going to be your document.

The thought that this will be a relatively achievable exercise is but natural. The term does not invite much intimidation from both amateur and professional writers. There are a few reasons why you should give your book to a professional editor to proofread, and I think you should read those before you make up your mind. 

  • A professional proofreader can identify the smaller, minute inconsistencies that often slip by us. After a lot of practice and experience, a professional proofreader is able to identify faults in the text that are virtually unnoticeable by others.
  • A proofreader ensures that specific conventions are met in a document, especially in an academic document. The technicalities of APA or MLA formatting are often confusing or challenging. This is where the proofreader steps in and makes your life easy.

Paper True vs Scribendi

Some of the best proofreading services for your needs:


PaperTrue is an editing and proofreading service based in California, USA. Armed with native English speaking editors, PaperTrue will weed out all unnecessary grammar and syntax errors with precision. Their service also has the provision for free revisions, so you can get changes made based on any further developments in your novel or your academic essay. 

Apart from the usual requirements that editing and proofreading services should have, PaperTrue also gives you an opportunity to work with your editor closely to communicate better about your thought process that goes into your novel. The editors help you to form a definite plot structure, flesh out your characters better, and work through the plot holes and story inconsistencies, among other things. Find out more about PaperTrue here

Paper True review and Scribendi review

PaperTrue is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Sitejabber

PaperTrue is rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot

PaperTrue is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Google reviews

PaperTrue is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on

Pricing: Editing of a 1000 word document in 24 hrs costs US $36


Scribendi is an editing and proofreading service that provides editing for academic documents like essays, dissertations, and papers to personal documents (resume, CV, and college applications). 

Check out the services that they offer, here

Paper True Review and Scribendi review

Wrapping Up: Paper True vs Scribendi

Readers, please share so writers discover these answers and read this Paper True review and Scribendi review.

This post was contributed and made possible by the support of our readers.

  1. Melinda J Mitchell

    I never thought to read the document backwards! But it sure makes sense!
    Also, thanks for introducing me to those 2 new programs!

    • Janice Wald

      Hi BBFFM,
      Thanks for commenting. You mentioned reading the document backwards. Have you ever considered writing backwards? You’re a humor blogger. That would be perfect for you.
      Check how out this tutorial explaining how to write upside down (funny and fun!) and backwards!

  2. Sathish Arumugam

    Yes, reading backwards is a great tip to find minor mistakes. Actually,It’s a new tip for me. I will try this out for sure. I rely on Grammarly to find grammatical errors and suggestions. Thanks for introducing PaperTrue and Scribendi.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Sathish,
      Reading backwards seems to be a new tip for many commenters who are expressing this surprise in other comment boxes. I rely on Grammarly as well. Introducing you to new resources is my pleasure.

  3. Bella X

    Proof reading blogs before I publish it is a step I do all the time. If I am not sure of meaning of words I always google. It helps me alot in finding the right words to use for my contents.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Bella,
      Like you, I proofread. If I can say it with a better word, I change the word upon revision.
      Thanks for commenting.

  4. james norton

    Great to Read! You have explained proofreading from a different and unique perspective. very nice and detailed explanation!

  5. Biography

    I publish it is a step I do all the time. If I am not sure of meaning of words I always google. It helps me alot in finding the right words to use for my contents.

  6. Charles

    Great post, Janice. Being a blog editor, proofreading is an important part of my day-to-day life. Apart from using MS-Word’s default proof reading tools, I also use Grammarly, Ginger and Slick Write to double check my articles. I will check out PaperTrue and Scribendi as per your recommendation. Thank you!


    • Janice Wald

      Hi Charles,
      Thanks for coming by last week to comment on my blog post.
      If you are an editor, proofreading is definitely an important part of your job. Thanks for coming by with these recommendations and validations of some of the tools in the post.
      I am not a pro like you but my favorite is Grammarly.

  7. Parco

    Actually now I understand what proofreading is, your article is very full about it. Thank you

  8. Jeangam Kahmei

    Hey Janice,

    Seriously, I knew that editing is slightly different from proofreading but I have never thought so deeply that there is a huge difference between them.

    Perhaps both of them are needed at their own stage.

    Thanks for highlighting them and explaining so beautifully.

    Jeangam Kahmei

    • Janice Wald

      My pleasure, JeanGam. I’m glad you enjoyed. Great to see you.

  9. Camillekey

    I think editing, revising and proofreading are just the same. It is only different on the way that you described it. These 3 processes are can perform at the same time as i believed. Also, to maximize the time. But you have a great content. Thumbs up.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Camillekey,
      Thanks for writing to share your perspective. You are right– if you look at them as the same, you do save time!

  10. Beth Havey

    As a former proofreader and copy editor for the Meredith Corporation, this is a great post. Many don’t know the ups and downs and the great importance of these editorial tasks. It can make the difference between the reader staying with you or sighing and giving up. I still am amazed at people who cannot spell, yet in some ways I think it’s a visual gift.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Beth,
      I did not realize your background includes being a professional proofreader and editor.
      Thanks for the compliments on the post and your assurances that the editing process is definitely vital.
      Thanks for commenting on my article.

  11. Alex Marsh

    Great information. I was not aware of Stylistic errors but good to know that proofreading covers so much in it. Thanks for sharing such valuable content.

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