• 3-minute read
  • 6th July 2015

Proofreading and Formatting: What’s the Difference?

We are frequently asked by customers about the difference between proofreading and formatting. We’ve put this blog post together to clear things up once and for all!


It is often difficult to know exactly what ‘proofreading’ is, as it can mean different things in different contexts.

A proofreader for a professional publishing house will check the final copy of a work that is due to be published, using special proofreading marks to indicate where changes need to be made. They will not make suggestions for improvements to the text itself.

By contrast, modern proofreading often includes an element of editing, such as changing the text to enhance the flow of prose or suggesting alternative words. (This is the kind of proofreading we offer.)

We also check the spelling, grammar and punctuation in documents, as well as ensuring that references are used correctly. Our proofreaders can also add comments to let you know if you have repeated yourself or if any improvements could be made to the structure of your essay.

Proofreaders should not rewrite material, as this would be plagiarism.


A formatting service usually includes some or all of the following elements:

Creating a Dynamic Table of Contents

This is a table listing all of the sections in your document, making it easy to navigate to particular chapters. It also makes your work look very professional.

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Inserting a Dynamic List of Charts, Figures or Tables

This is like the list of contents, but details any tables and figures you use in your work.

Formatting Titles, Subtitles and Text

This includes applying different formatting to subtitles and your main titles, as well as ensuring the fonts, spacing and other stylistic elements are consistent.

Labelling Charts, Figures and Tables

It’s important to label charts, figures and tables so your reader knows what they mean. Labelling these also lets you add a dynamic list at the beginning of your document. We do this using Microsoft Word’s ‘Caption’ options, which lets you to make full use of the program’s other formatting features.

Track Changes

Our proofreaders will provide you with two new copies of your work: a ‘Track Changes’ copy and a ‘Clean’ copy. ‘Track Changes’ is a function in Microsoft Word used by editors.

The ‘Track Changes’ copy will show any alterations made in a different colour. This allows you to see how your document has been edited.

Meanwhile, in the ‘Clean’ copy, all changes will have been accepted (comments will still be visible, but you can delete these).

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