Editing and proofreading are two distinct tasks in the writing process and should not be confused.
Editing is the ongoing process by which you review draft copies of your writing to improve the delivery of its communication. It focuses primarily on the content. You begin your first edit by looking at the development of your ideas, asking yourself if the arguments and examples you have presented support your main idea? You examine cohesion to make sure that your ideas “hang together” while developing the main idea. In other words, are all of your ideas relevant? If not, you remove the irrelevant ideas and try and embellish the relevant ones that remain. You look for smooth transitions from one supporting idea to the other, whether you are comparing, contrasting, defining, describing, or persuading. And finally, you look at grammar to ensure that you are delivering the correct meaning sentence by sentence.
Your overarching goal as an editor is to learn how to read your own writing by viewing it through the eyes of your intended reader. This takes some practice, but the more you learn to self-evaluate your writing, the better your writing skill will become.
Proofreading is the last step in any writing process. It involves the final read-through of any written document. At this point, you have cleaned up or edited the content of your writing and are now looking for any final typos, misspellings, duplicate words, or omitted words that you may have overlooked.
Editing and writing each have their own place in the writing process and should be viewed accordingly.