What Is Proofreading? Why Does It Matter?

What is proofreading graphic

Written communication is a vital part of every personal or business relationship. What is proofreading and what does a proofreader do? Whether you’re writing a book report for school, writing a formal incident report for work, or writing an advertisement or email online. It’s important to double-check the text to ensure it’s written accurately and clearly.

This is essentially where proofreading comes in. Learn how to become a proofreader. Proofreading your work for writing mistakes can help you avoid confusion and miscommunication in your text.

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the last possible opportunity to revise text before it is printed or published. What do proofreaders do? What does proofread mean? The word “proofread” originated from the traditional publishing industry. Before digital publishing gained popularity, traditional publishers would print an early copy of a text (the “proof”).

The final review of a proof was performed by a proofreader who’s responsible for catching any spelling, grammatical, and formatting errors or inconsistencies. Although the text or manuscript may have gone through the editing process, some errors can still get missed in these early review stages.

Difference Between Proofreading And Editing

By the time a document is ready to be proofread, it should have gone through the editing process already. This means its content should already be well written, organized, and easy to understand. Although, editing also involves removing some errors, it focuses more on making sure the document makes sense as a whole.

What does a proofreader do? Although proofreading is considered part of the editing process, editing involves a few key differences. Editors who have reviewed the document before a proofreader are often focused on other aspects of the text. 

For instance, a top editor might review the document to ensure the ideas and arguments are effective. Or rework sentences and sections. So the entire document flows cohesively. Even though a copy editor is responsible for fixing spelling and grammatical errors, they also focus on keeping a publication’s style consistent throughout. 

In addition to correcting errors that might’ve slipped through previous editing steps. Proofreading ensures that other pre-publication factors, like line spacing, grammar, page formatting, and typography are accurate.

Good Ideas When Proofreading

Proofreading is a major step in the writing process. These ideas can help you catch mistakes before your work is submitted:

  • Edit your writing first. Before you start proofreading, make sure you’ve thoroughly revised and edited your work. There’s no point spending time fixing minor errors if you might later remove complete sections or rewrite paragraphs. 
  • Take a break. After spending a lot of time writing and rereading the same text. It’ll be easier to find missing words in a sentence or for your eyes to glaze over grammatical details.
  • Read the text out loud. This strategy helps you spot confusing points or irregular structure. Smooth structure and flow is essential.
  • Print version. Getting your eyes away from a computer screen and onto a physical page can help you find errors that fall through the cracks.


When learning how to be a successful proofreader, pay attention to errors that keep recurring in a text. This can help you avoid them in the future. Knowing what to look for is the most challenging part of proofreading. You’ll probably notice obvious typos, but subtle mistakes in grammar and punctuation can be difficult to recognize. 

Although proofreading is less extensive than an edit, it is an important step when preparing a piece of written work to be read by other people. As errors can cause confusion or be seen as unprofessional. 


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