A lot of students are really confused about the difference between editing and proofreading. Many have been told by a university lecturer or friend that they should get their work proofread, but what it actually needs is a light edit and a proofread. Why? Editing is the start of the process to clean up your writing. Think of editing as the second coat of paint and proofreading as the top and final coat that gives your work the ‘shine’ you want.
If you are writing in English as an additional language then you’re best to choose a service that involves both editing and proofreading as the changes you want an academic proofreader to make are just too many.
The Short Answer
Editing (which can include heavy editing, structural editing or copy editing) involves an experienced editor going through your document and understanding what changes need to be made to your coherence, tone and language structure.
Proofreading is the final stage of the whole process (where writing is first and editing is second). When the proofreader receives your document is should have already been through a process of editing. Grammatical, punctuation and spelling errors will be picked up and corrected. It is the final stage before you print your paper.