The Team Writing Process: Editing and Proofreading

Editing is a very important part of any writing process, and in terms of team writing, collaborative editing means simultaneous work of all team members on editing the document. In other words, collaborative editing means making changes to the writing by all team members using special collaborative editing tools. One of the most popular strategies of collaborative editing is circulating a copy of the writing and giving opportunity to every team member to study the document and make necessary annotations. On the final stage of the group editing, the team members can meet and discuss all the issues related to editing, or the team leader can make an individual decision about the final version of the writing.

Undoubtedly, collaborative editing is much more advantageous and effective method of revising than individual editing. First of all, collaborative editing is a strategy, which allows every team member to make a contribution to the process of editing. Therefore, the writing can be estimated and revised not by only one person, but by a number of people, and this obviously decreases the chances of having some unclear, inadequate, overwritten or conflicting parts in the writing. Besides, collaborative editing is very valuable, because every editor can receive feedback from other team members, which is usually very reliable and objective. Also, working as a group on editing the writing helps to create a positive environment and make the editors feel more controlled than an individual editor could be.

Finally, another important advantage of collaborative editing is its being a great tool, which can help to relief editing workload on an individual team member. However, it is necessary to remember that for making collaborative editing effective and beneficial, the team has to specify the strategy and all the procedures related to collaborative editing. In contrast to individual editing, collaborative effort on revising the writing requires coordination of the work of all the editors and creating an approach, which would make clear to every editor, how big the changes can be, how detailed the writing must be, etc.

Proofreading is a procedure of checking out the writing and making sure that it is free of various errors and mistakes in spelling and punctuation, usually with no regard to content of the document. Proofreading is one of the main stages of any writing process. Every individual usually has specific strategies of handling the work of proofreading. However, one way or another, in terms of individual proofreading there is only one person who checks out the paper and corrects various mistakes. Collective proofreading is done by a group of people, therefore, it is possible to get several perspectives on the writing and decrease chances to miss and overlook possible mistakes or errors.

The procedure of collective proofreading is quite similar to the one of collective editing, and there are two possible strategies of team proofreading. One way is to circulate the writing, give every team member the opportunity to proofread the whole document and make personal marks (for future monitoring of the changes made by every particular proofreader). The other strategy is giving a part or a section of the writing to every team member for individual proofreading and correcting. This strategy is less advantageous and, in order to increase its efficiency, the team leader must ensure that every member proofreads the section, which was drafted by someone else in the team.

Another important difference of collaborative proofreading as opposed to individual proofreading is the forms of controlling and evaluating the work. An individual proofreader usually uses only own vision of the process, as well as own knowledge of grammar and punctuation for proofreading. However, when working as a group, it is possible to select a member who has the best proofreading skills and knows the rules of correct Standard English better than the other team members do. Therefore, the team leader can delegate the responsibilities for doing final spelling and grammar check and making final corrections to such member of the team, or use assistance of such team member while making final corrections by own effort.

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2 Responses to “The Team Writing Process: Editing and Proofreading”

  1. Good article. Editing and proofreading are indeed essential steps to deliver a quality document (and very often missed or underestimated).

    Writers I know usually have an editor/proofreader to review their work. This seems to be the most efficient approach, especially in software documentation. Whatever the approach you use, you need to define a clear process and document ownership if you want to get good results.

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