A quick note from the editerrarium…

Someone asked me what in tarnation* is the difference between an editor and a proofreader. In short, proofreaders mark (and correct) errors; editors may do the same, but our discipline casts us as wavers of flags and callers of attention. 

What’s that mean in plainspeak? 

We seek the spirit of the work
Using “the company” on page 4 and “the Company” on page 104 isn’t necessarily wrong, and something a proofer might not mark.  But if it’s referring to the same entity, it is inconsistent.  Striving for consistency, editors may note which usage appears more often in the document and go that route.  But if your company’s spirit (and here’s where it gets tricky) is more subdued, or less self-aggrandizing, e.g., a non-profit, then perhaps we’d suggest the lowercase as it would reinforce that mein.  I know I would.

We respond to the overall flow
On your landing page, the two paragraphs describing your services may be devoid of punctuation and spelling offenses.  But what do you think about reversing their order for ease of comprehension?  Better yet, what about removing the first paragraph and weaving that material into the About Us page?  Just a thought.

Perhaps we could think of laws: while proofers abide by (seemingly) universal rules, editors are apt to hold reverent local laws, rules specific to the work.  Similarly proscribed in A Defense of the Spirit of Laws, we tend to honor the local character of a document.


In a sentence, editors understand when the doctrine of grammar, punctuation, and syntax demand allegiance, but we also recognize and respond accordingly when they stand in the way of communication that is understandable and intelligible, entertaining and enlightening.

We’re grounded in black and white, but mostly operate in the gray between the two.

*Not the speaker’s actual choice of words