Partying with Punctuation

Proofreading and editing are terms that I often see used together and sometimes I’ve seen people refer to one when what they really mean is the other. I am, of course, guilty of this charge myself. I often say “editing” when I mean “proofreading”, partly because the general word “editing” is more recognisable than “proofreading”. Regardless of how we use them to suit our own lazy conversation needs, editing and proofreading are two different words because they are two different processes and not interchangeable as some might lead you to believe. Both processes are important to your writing.

Token lolcat to make this post more interesting. More to come.


This is done first, usually as soon as you’ve finished your manuscript. For some, it’s an ongoing process as they write. You know those moments when you discover the pace is just a little too slow and you need to speed it up, or when you realise a whole chapter is incoherent and needs to be rewritten? That’s editing.

Editing is the process of revising and rewriting your work to ensure it is coherent, flows smoothly, and uses language and technique appropriately.

You will find that as you edit you also correct spelling and move punctuation marks around the page, however the main goal of editing is to ensure coherence and structure. Editors will often come back to writers and say things like, “Bob could do with a bit more background information to help the audience better relate to him” and “the meaning of this sentence is unclear – rephrase it”.

It is believed that editors are violent because of the coffee shortage in Brazil.
What? There’s no coffee shortage in Brazil?


This is done last, the final hurrah before you pop the champagne and cheer. While editing focuses on form and language, proofreading makes sure that the protagonist remains blonde throughout the entire novel (unless she has a sordid affair with a box of hair dye), and that there are no stray commas wreaking havoc across the page.

Proofreading is the checking for and correction of grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation, and format.

Proofreading is the final “look-over” to check that spelling, punctuation and grammar are perfect, and that format is tidy and consistent. In a formal environment, proofreaders don’t usually communicate with authors as they’re not suggesting changes or making comments about the content of the work. They just make your manuscript look good.

Proofreading Cat also says that if you rely solely on spellcheck, you deserve every painful stroke of the red pen.

Proofreaders use funny symbols (because most proofreaders are a little funny themselves):

Proofreading and editing are some of the hardest processes in producing a piece of work. They require you to revise, rewrite, and question your love affair with commas. If you don’t have a cat who can edit and proofread for you, pay a professional. This leads me to a wonderful analogy (you know I love analogies).

Your manuscript is a party. And because your manuscript is a really, really awesome manuscript, this is a really, really awesome party.

Editing your manuscript is decorating the function hall – it’s organising the colour scheme and sorting out the menu. Don’t seat the five vegetarians at the table next to the roasted pig (and don’t offer them the apple from its mouth). There’s a lot of coordination here – you’re making sure everything comes together to work smoothly. And on top of all that, you have to remember not to let Aunty Mary near the open bar!

Proofreading your manuscript is doing a quick scan of the room before your guests arrive to make sure the champagne fountain isn’t overflowing into the chocolate fountain and the Chippendales are lined up in size height order.

Party hard, my friends.


13 comments on “Partying with Punctuation

  1. Pingback: Partying With Punctuation « 3E8 English Resource Library

  2. Pingback: Copyediting – Proofreading Process (Part Two) « KRISTINA STANLEY

  3. Pingback: The importance of proofreading | Suddenly they all died. The end.

  4. Pingback: Jon Gibbs’s Ten things I wish I knew before I was published #4: The End is Just the Beginning | Jennifer M Eaton

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