Editing and Proofreading

Editing and Proofreading for English Second Language

Editing and proofreading are an essential part of the writing process. While editing and proofreading your work  is important for all types of writing,  is very important in academic writing, and especially so if English is not your primary language.

Editing helps you become a better writer. You have spent a lot of time and effort in researching and writing your thesis or dissertation. Now you must make sure it is grammatically flawless, by editing and proofreading your manuscript before publishing it.

What is Editing?

everyone needs a good editor

Editing is the process of checking the language, spelling, grammar and structure of your document, thesis, dissertation or technical writing. As a writer, you should already be self-editing your work. This is known as ‘revising’, and you should typically revise your manuscript three times after finishing the first draft.

In the first revision you check technical content, check for accuracy and for completeness. In the second revision you check writing style, mechanics and organisation. And, in the third revision you check grammar, spelling, sentence construction and punctuation.

After revising your manuscript at least three times, you are now ready to edit it. You can self-edit, or you can have your manuscript edited by a professional freelance editor. The recommended route is for you to use a professional editor, for the simple reason – you need a fresh set of eyes to pick up any errors you may have overlooked.

What is Proofreading?

Purpose of proofreading

Proofreading is the last step in the editing process. It involves checking sentences for errors, and It is the final check before publishing the manuscript. Proofreading focuses on identifying and correcting typographical errors, grammatical mistakes and any other errors that may have crept in during the revising and editing process.

Editing and Proofreading: Four Steps

There are four steps in editing and proofreading. The author is responsible for the first and second steps, and a professional editor is responsible for the third and fourth steps.

Step 1: Content editing

The author is responsible for editing content while revising the first draft of the text. Quite often significant changes are made to content, and sometimes entire sections are moved, added or deleted. This stage is also known as developmental editing.

Step 2: Line editing

In this stage of the editing process you change words, phrases and sentences. You also restructure paragraphs to improve the flow and logic of the text. The objective of line editing is to make sure you communicate your story, ideas or arguments as clearly and concisely as possible. While you are mainly responsible for this stage of the editing process, you can ask a professional editor to help with line editing.

Step 3: Copy editing

This step in the editing process usually involves a professional editor. The editor polishes individual sentences to ensure correct grammar, clear syntax, and consistency with style. The editor also makes sure that your document follows the rules of a specific style guide, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide.

A copy editor doesn’t change the content of the text; that is the author’s responsibility. The editor highlights any unclear, ambiguous or awkward sentences or paragraphs and works with the author to improve them.

Step 4: Proofreading

Proofreading is the fourth and final step in the editing process. During this stage the editor carefully checks the text for any remaining errors such as misspelt words, misplaced punctuation, and inconsistencies with style. Proofreading takes place after all of the other editing stages have been completed.

The editor makes sure that the work is grammatically flawless and is ready to publish.

What to Editors do?

Editors check the content, overall structure, style and clarity of the writing. They look for patterns of errors and check citations and references which are particularly important in academic and technical writing.


  • Read each sentence very carefully to identify its function in the paragraph;
  • Analyse the sentences that precede and follow the sentence they are focusing on;
  • Check to see if the connections between sentences are clear;
  • Evaluate the design and structure of each individual sentence; and
  • Check length and grammatical construction of the sentence, with focus on the relationship between subject, verb and object.
  • Do a final check of the manuscript before it is published.

The goal of good academic writing is to present the amount of detail necessary for clarity and understanding in as few words as possible.

How an academic editor can help you

An academic editor can help you in at least five different ways:

  • They can help you organize your ideas in a logical manner;
  • They serve as a second set of eyes. The editor views your work from the same perspective as your potential audience, and is able to identify any flaws or errors of logic in your document you may have overlooked;
  • As an expert, the editor ensures that you use the correct terminology and tone to convey your ideas;
  • An academic editor helps you improve your writing skills by providing examples of good academic writing, detailed corrections of your work, and tips for avoiding common mistakes; and
  • They ensure your manuscript is written in the correct style of English, be it British English or American English.

How I can help you

As an experienced technical and academic writer, and editor, I ensure that your work reads as though it was written by a native English speaker, and that it is consistent and organised in the best way possible for clarity and presentability.

Check out my industry experience, and the writing and digital publishing services I offer.

In addition, I also perform the following services:

  • Check for flow, expression, style and coherence of your arguments;
  • Address formatting issues and apply style guidelines, as appropriate;
  • Correct errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax;
  • Make suggestions where additional improvements can be made, or where things need to be clarified;
  • Check consistency with regards to headings, tables and figures; and
  • Check your manuscript for citations and references, and make sure citations and references comply with the appropriate style guide.

Editing and Proofreading: My process

I follow a four step process in my editing:

1. I do an initial language and style edit;

2. After that, I do a reference style check;

3. A formatting edit follows next; and

4. Then I do a final proofread edit.

You are responsible for your own work, and have the final decision-making authority. I work with you to ensure your English document is grammatically flawless and ready to publish. You have to impress your audience – your academic supervisor, examiners, moderators and peers. It is vital your work is of the highest standard, and the best way to make an excellent first impression is with a professionally edited thesis or dissertation.

Editing and Proofreading: Scope of Work

I provide basic editing in British or American English including checking:

  • Normal grammar: spelling, paragraphing, use of tenses, concordance of verb forms with nouns, identification and removal of redundant and repetitive information;
  • Sentence structure: syntax, active voice, ambiguity;
  • Clear definitions of abbreviations, terminology, and idioms;
  • Consistency of lists: bulleted, alphabetical, and numbered;
  • Format of quotations: correct use of block quotes, ellipses, and punctuation;
  • General presentation of tables and figures in text, including headings and descriptions;
  • Cross referencing of citations with references;
  • Consistency of headings with contents list, including style and size;
  • List of contents, figures, tables, abbreviations, as required;
  • Consistent footnote style;
  • Readability of the document;
  • Punctuation;
  • Formatting, including: block quotes, section headings, paragraphs, bulleted lists, numbering of headings, sub-headings, figures and tables. Position of headings and captions. Spacing: headings, lines, and sections. Table of Contents; and
  • Heading styles, levels and numbering.

Confidentiality guaranteed

Confidentiality is absolutely essential in academic editing, because the client-editor relationship is one based on trust. When you entrust your manuscript to me, I guarantee that no-one will see your work, except me and the professional editors I work with. We have all signed non-disclosure agreements, and are quite willing to sign a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with you, upon request.

Next Step

Simply email me a copy of your work. I will then do a sample edit to determine the complexity of the editing project, and will send you a quote by email, together with my terms and conditions. You are under no obligation, and incur no cost during the sample edit and quoting stage.

Email me at info@dsrconsulting.co.za, or go to my contact me page and leave me a message, and I’ll get right back to you