Editing and proofreading

After content editing, text destined for a publication must undergo two more editing and proofreading processes before typesetting and final layout. Let’s see what they consist of.


Editing is a reading that analyses the grammatical, lexical, discursive and expressive qualities of the text as well as its adaptation to the style standards of the publication. Here are some of the items that are reviewed:

  • Grammatical aspects: concordance, order of syntactic elements, phrasal verbs, syntactic construction, consistency of syntactic relations with logic.
  • Lexical and semantic aspects: precision and diversity in the choice of vocabulary, semantic coherence.
  • Discursive aspects: coherence and cohesion, use of connectors, anaphora, cataphora, deictic elements, argumentative structure.
  • Language level and linguistic register: use of cultured or popular, formal or colloquial language depending on the genre of the text, the context and the situation.
  • Wealth of expression: correction of vulgarisms, barbarisms, inaccuracies, ambiguities, vagueness, ultra-corrections, etc.; enrichment of impoverished expression.
  • Structural, lexical and syntactic compliance with the style standards; other aspects are reviewed in the proofreading.

Editing is a complex task that requires sound linguistic and bibliological knowledge. The editor must make in-depth interventions in the text if it has numerous deficiencies, something that happens much more frequently than you might think.

However, as with content editing, the last word on any proposed changes remains with the author.


Once the content and style elements have been checked and corrected, the spelling and typographical quality of the text must be checked in order to:

  • correct any typos and misspellings;
  • align the use of capital letters, accentuation and quotation marks;
  • arrange quotations, citations and notes;
  • check the structuring and numbering of sections;
  • control other typographical elements in accordance with the relevant conventions; and
  • indicate the typographic criteria that will be applied in the typesetting process.

Proofreading of typeset text

We’ve seen the three correction processes that a text goes through before its composition. But quality controls don’t end there.

Once the text is laid out, spelling and typing aspects need to be checked again, this time paying attention to misprints and other typographical errors that may have crept in when composing the text or that were overlooked in previous readings. This process is called proofreading of typesetting.

Proofreading of first proofs (galley proofs)

The first proofs of the already composed text are traditionally called galley proofs. Digital layout systems allow the generation of a composite and collated version from the first proofs, so the traditional distinction between galleys (or first composite proofs) and collated ones (second proofs) no longer applies in the same way. However, it’s common to maintain a double (or even triple) proofreading process. Galley proofreading is an extremely important process for perfecting editing work. In addition to detecting and correcting errors, the proofreader must pay attention to all the typographical aspects of the text, among which the following should be highlighted:

  • spelling harmonisation, according to the general or specific orthographic conventions of the publication (use of capital letters, punctuation, abbreviations, accentuation);
  • distribution of margins, spacing, line spacing, indentation, control of widow and orphan lines;
  • arrangement and structuring of the sections (chapters, titles, sections, epigraphs, lists, numberings);
  • header and footer structure;
  • notes and note numbering;
  • layout and content of tables, graphs, illustrations;
  • bibliographic references (arrangement, spellings, coherence between citations and references);
  • verification of summaries, table of contents and analytical indices.

The results of the first tests are usually reviewed by the editorial coordinator before the changes are incorporated into the laid out text.

Proofreading of second proofs (typeset proofs)

Once the relevant changes have been made to the typeset text (usually already collated from the first proofs), second proofs are generated, and in most cases they will also be the last ones.

If the work has been done well in the previous processes, and if there is no unforeseen need to correct any aspect of the content on the instructions of the author or the editorial coordinator, reading the second proofs will serve to verify that:

  • all typographical errors detected in the previous proofreading have indeed been corrected, and
  • no typos have been left out.

After this last correction, the final changes will be applied and the outcome will be ready for printing or digital publication.