It was one of those days when Terry realised he missed the team

We’ve all done it… multi-tasked.

Multi-tasking is great when it works – a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Save time and energy getting it all done by streamlining and managing your work effectively.

But sometimes in business it pays to split up the work-stream and have a team to get you through. This is especially important when accuracy is key.

I wrote last week about being too close to your writing and your eyes becoming used to seeing what they think they should see. Well, this is one reason why both an editor and a proofreader are important in producing a top quality written product. Both perform different tasks, and as a result two pairs of eyes are definitely better than one.

When a writer writes they are engrossed in the writing and errors slip in. When we write we don’t always see the big picture, we are too focussed on what we are saying and getting the message across.

Once the writing is done the editor takes over. Editors deal with words, they make sure that the writer is getting across what he wants to say, and how he wants to say it. As editors we hone the language, see that facts are correct and see that the components all fit together nicely. We spot spelling mistakes and mistakes in grammar, make sure the writing is fit for the intended audience and make the content the best it can be.

Then the proofreader takes over. Proofreaders also deal with words, but by this stage the language should be sorted, the content fit for purpose and nicely set out. They are a second set of eyes, a quality check. They check against the edited copy (or sometimes not), make sure styles are consistent and that everything is as it should be. And they spot those pesky spelling mistakes that the editor has missed through being too close to the writing.

You see, no human is 100% accurate all of the time. Any editor or proofreader who can guarantee this level of accuracy is a robot; even computers aren’t 100% accurate.


That’s why you need a team. If one person works on a document alone, you could see, for example, a 30% error rate of language, spelling, format style etc. Add a second pair of trained eyes and the error rate falls, say to 10–15%. Then add another person and the rate again falls to 5–10%. These are just examples taken from the top of my head, but you get my drift.

If you hire an editor to edit, then expect them to re-check their work numerous times, this eventually falls into proofreading territory and the editor will not be as effective – they are too close to the work. Pass the edited work to a proofreader once the proofs (typeset copies) are ready and this fresh set of eyes will be new to the work and will pick out those little things that have been missed.

For individuals and small presses this may seem an expensive option, but the end product will be so much better. The product quality will show that care and attention has been given. Not that editors don’t give care and attention, most of us seem to go above and beyond our remit, but that extra pair of eyes is worth its weight in gold.

So you see, although editors can proofread their work, just as writers can do a certain amount of editing, teamwork brings in fresh eyes and fresh perspectives. An editor suggests changes, a proofreader gives that final polish.

One Comment on “Teamwork

  1. Pingback: A book production team | The Proof Angel

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