Will AI Replace Proofreaders and Editors? 5 Reasons Why It Won’t

Will AI replace proofreaders and editors? If you are looking to get into proofreading and editing, and are wondering how artificial intelligence (AI) will impact your job prospects, or if there will be a need for editorial professionals in the future, this blog post will answer all of your questions.

With over two decades of working as an editor and writer, I have seen a lot of trends and changes in the field. I have witnessed the emergence of ebooks, growth in self-publishing, and now the development of AI tools. 

Now, as an editorial educator and mentor, I have also trained people how to edit AI content. Writing that has been generated by a large language models (LLMs) cannot be approached in the same way as text written by a human. It is important to understand where the faults in AI writing lies so you know how to work with it.

In this post, you will discover why AI cannot replace a human proofreader and editor. There are five important reasons why human editors will always be in demand. You will also learn what the future holds for professional proofreaders and editors. 

will AI replace proofreaders and editors

What Is AI And How Does It Write Content? 


AI programs like ChatGPT and Llama are designed to interact with people through language. They are LLMs, which are AI systems that are trained on large amounts of text data from multiple sources. As a result, tools like ChatGPT can create new text and share information based on what text data it has been trained with. 

When it comes to written content, AI can be used to write marketing copy, stories, reports, social media captions, blog posts—anything. That’s why it is no surprise that people are wondering how AI is affecting the editorial industry. After all, if AI can write, can’t it also edit? 

The good news is, based on my experiences as an editor who works with companies who use AI, I firmly believe it won’t replace proofreaders and editors. 

I am also taking into consideration what opportunities my students are seeing in the field. They are reporting new and higher-paying proofreading and editing projects. Taking all of this into account, along with the five facts I outline below, I believe there will be even more opportunities for editorial professionals. 

AI’s Current Role In Editorial


In all likelihood, you have probably used AI without even being aware of it. In fact, when it comes to writing, artificial intelligence has been in use long before ChatGPT came on the scene.

Did you know that the spell check feature in Microsoft Word is a form of artificial intelligence? Or that writing programs like Grammarly also use AI? 

Millions of people also use Google Docs, which actually integrates AI-based features to improve a user’s experience. Correcting your spelling and making grammatical suggestions are examples of artificial intelligence features. 

As you can see, despite AI being around for years, it has not taken away the need for human proofreaders and editors. In fact, the demand for skilled editorial professionals has actually grown. Now, with AI on the scene, the need is increasing. Keep reading to find out why.

5 Reasons Why AI Cannot Replace Human Proofreaders and Editors


1. AI Cannot Preserve The Writer’s Voice


The number one rule of proofreading and editing is this: Always preserve the writer’s voice. 

It doesn’t matter if it is a blog post, fiction novel or corporate newsletter. The writer’s voice or brand’s style must always be preserved. This is another reason why AI cannot replace human proofreaders and editors.

In writing, there are instances when a writer’s voice will weaken, or is awkward, or there is ambiguity. When an editor works, they become familiar with the client’s style. They also rely on their intuition to signal when something feels off. AI cannot do this. 

An editor must know the client’s style and their unique preferences. An editor who is familiar with the writer’s style will correct them so it is aligned with the writer’s voice while also suiting the context. As professionals, it is our job to edit writing so it sounds as if the writer wrote it themselves. 

AI does a poor job of preserving the writer’s voice. While it is true that AI can try to write in a writer’s or brand’s style through training, it cannot make decisions in order to maintain it.  

will AI replace proofreaders and editors

2. AI Cannot Build Trust With Clients


When editing content, it is important for editors to have empathy and understanding. Writers, businesses and creators need their content to be approached with care and empathy. This is how they ensure that readers have the best experience with their content. 

AI cannot build trust with clients the way a human editor can. This helps foster a mutually respectful relationship between the editor and client. People feel that their writing is in good hands when the proofreader or editor cares about the outcome, the client, and the reader. This holistic approach to working with clients is not something that can be produced by AI. 

When working with clients, editors take into consideration if this is the writer’s first project, if they’ve worked with an editor before, and any client concerns. This shapes how the editor will communicate, query and edit. No writer wants to receive impersonal messages from an AI system.

I always tell my students that when proofreading or editing, they need to be:

  • Respectful
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Clear
  • Approachable

This is especially true when working with fiction novels, poetry and memoirs. It is also crucial when working with content that addresses cultural, emotional and social issues. AI lacks the personal connection that is needed to be considerate of the audience and the writer’s intent.

That leads us to the next point.

3. AI Cannot Make Editorial Decisions 


What does this mean? It means that AI cannot spot when a word, phrase or topic is sensitive in nature or inappropriate for the audience. Content is always written with a specific reader in mind. A human editor is able to flag issues that aren’t suitable or are sensitive for the reader. 

Remember, not all readers are alike, and not all writing has the same purpose. It is up to an editor to know what the reader needs to read and how. They also know what to avoid and what to rewrite for better understanding and impact. They do all of this while keeping the client’s objective in mind.

As you can see, editors elevate a writer’s voice while also ensuring the writing itself is consistent and appropriate for the audience. This is a delicate and complex balance that an AI program cannot replicate. 

4. AI Cannot Do All Of The Editorial Tasks


As I mentioned before, AI has been used in writing programs like Microsoft Word to correct minor errors in spelling and punctuation. These are only part of a proofreader’s and editor’s tasks, though. AI cannot do everything related to refining content.

For example, proofreaders do more than just fix spelling and punctuation. They also address issues in formatting, spacing, typesetting and art. In proofreading, it is also important to maintain consistency with the writer’s style, particularly with fiction writing.

Editors do not work with the technical aspects of language, like fixing typos. Instead, they focus on shaping the overall creativity or impact of a story or message.

AI cannot apply the same attention to voice and readability that a human editor can bring to a project. Editors always consider a reader’s experience. 

Line editors work with writing to improve readability, flow, and clarity. They will rewrite and edit words and phrases so the writing is engaging and effective. 

Line editing is the only editorial skill that involves rewriting text at the sentence level. As you can see, this opens up a lot of opportunities for editors.

Interested In Editing Content? 


If you’d like to know more about line editing and how easy it is to become an editor, we have a free 5-day ecourse to get you started. Line Editing 101 is foundational learning that takes you through the essentials of starting your own editing career or side hustle. 

Learn how to edit content for free here.

5. AI Makes Mistakes And Cannot Be Relied On


And finally, AI cannot replace proofreaders and editors because it makes mistakes. Facts presented in any kind of writing must always be checked for accuracy. Proofreaders check obvious facts, while copy editors check more niche specific facts. Fact checkers do thorough checks of content, as well.

Remember, AI is only as good as the data it is trained on. That means the information it shares may not be up-to-date or relevant to the niche. It cannot fact check itself.

It would be irresponsible for any writer, business or creator to post content written by AI without having it looked over first by a human editor. 

AI can make mistakes, and it will continue to do so. That is why it is up to a human proofreader or editor to check for inaccuracies in facts.

What The Future Holds For Proofreaders & Editors


As you can see, there is a growing need for human editors and proofreaders and the value they bring to creating quality content. If you are considering pursuing a career or side hustle in editorial, there is not only space for you, there is a demand for you.

With more people and businesses using AI to write text, proofreading and editing by humans will ensure that the content is:

  • Accurate
  • Appropriate for the audience
  • Consistent with the writer’s or brand’s voice
  • Ready to provide a good reading experience 

AI can be exciting, but it has its flaws. It cannot replace proofreaders and editors who know how to preserve the writer’s voice, and are skilled and knowledgeable in their roles.

Conclusion


AI is not going away—that is a fact. As you have read, quality, authenticity and trust is what makes writing worthwhile to consume. That can only be done with the help of human editors, and that is why the future is bright for the editorial industry.

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