Learn Nuances of Copyediting vs Proofreading and Grow to Like Your Text

When it comes to copyediting vs proofreading, people have conflicting opinions. Some understand the difference between these concepts, but others confuse them, and this leads to problems and failures. Copyediting covers a wide spectrum of actions: it’s a process of removing stylistic, grammar, formatting, and other inaccuracies as well as adding or removing sentences depending on the context. 

In turn, proofreading means work with text that already looks good for making it perfect and addressing mistakes an editor might have missed. Most people choose to hire the best essay proofreading services for this task, but whether you do that or you want to complete everything by yourself, you must know how to differentiate between copyediting and proofreading.

Editing and Its Definition

Before we touch on the difference between editing vs proofreading, let’s figure out what editing is. It’s a final evaluation of content before its publication that deals with the text as a whole. Editing covers numerous types of content, from scientific articles to ads and fictional stories. Most editors specialize in specific areas because for doing their job, they need to have a deep understanding of the content. For example, if an article is about engineering and an editor knows nothing about it, they won’t be able to assess the text properly. That’s why they need to pick which areas they’re prepared to work with.

What Editor Does: Scope of Responsibilities

Editors tend to check texts that other people submitted to them last. They make editorial decisions — in a way, they are bosses who determine whether a piece of content is ready for publication. They analyze content, grammar, and flow, but if something doesn’t look right, in most cases, they don’t improve it personally. They send it to writers, copywriters, copyeditors, or proofreaders, depending on what issues they discovered.

When You Need a Copyeditor

What is copyediting? Like we already established, it is a large-scale process of improving the text and correcting glaring mistakes. If you want someone to actively make corrections and explain what you did wrong, this is the type of service you need.  Let’s imagine you wrote an article about a specific label of meds. Copyeditor will check whether your info is accurate, make comments about how your content sounds in general, mark moments where you sound overly promoting or on the contrary, too unenthusiastic. Copyediting is more technical in nature and it is useful because it deals with content directly.

Responsibilities of a Copyeditor

Members of TopWritersReview spoke with enough copyeditors to learn what they do when they start their work. These people have to follow many steps to transform text and make it readable. Each expert has their own pattern, but they all cover five major steps. Here’s what they do:

  • Check language. Copyeditors remove technical and mechanical errors they see, including issues with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. There is no difference between proofreading and copy editing in this regard: if something sounds awkward, they rephrase it.
  • Evaluate continuity and pacing. Some texts flow well, but others don’t. Pacing and continuity are vital for a story to make a good impression on readers. No matter what type of text you have, points should shift into one another gradually. Links between them have to be logical; no rambling passages should be present. In terms of editor vs proofreader responsibilities, the former does more as they deal not just with language, but also with the quality of content.   
  • Take note of formatting style. If you were ever a student who had to write essays, you probably know about different formatting styles like MLA, Chicago, APA, etc. In some of them, titles of books should be in italics; in others, they should be placed in quotation marks. Some forbid block quotes while others welcome them. This is one of the differences between proofreading vs copy editing: copyeditors compare these rules against what they find in the text and correct mistakes.
  • Remove flawed, incorrect, or misleading info. It is an editor’s responsibility to correct content mistakes. As an example, if a writer states that it was Salinger who wrote the ‘Harry Potter’ series, an editor must catch this issue and make it right. Sometimes it takes some research; some copyeditors aren’t as thorough as others, but it is still something they need to do.
  • Test content for plagiarism. What is a copy editor? In many ways, they are your assistant. Copyeditors check whether a text was plagiarized and make remarks about its originality rate. They might ask a writer to rewrite plagiarized sentences if they are present or make their own corrections.

Note that sometimes such terms as editing and copyediting are used interchangeably. It’s not a mistake, but you need to understand what they mean separately. Some best college paper editing services might ask for clarification if you hire them, so you’ll have to specify what exactly you need. With this addressed, now it’s time to see the differences between copy editing vs proofreading.

Times When You Need Proofreading

Editing and copywriting confuse many people. Some of them are also wondering, “What is the difference between revising and editing?” Since all these concepts are similar, it’s easy to misunderstand or mix them up. Proofreading vs editing debate falls into the same category, so let’s expand on the definition first. Proofreading is a technical kind of work that deals with text only on a superficial level, addressing language issues and nothing else. It takes place after copyediting but before it is sent to a chief editor. Proofreaders don’t need to cooperate with writers or copyeditors: they only require their skills, which facilitates their work quite a lot.

Tasks That Proofreaders Do

If you read any essay writing services reviews, pick a company, and order proofreading, you need to know a couple of things. Proofreaders get tasks that already look acceptable. Copyeditors work with them first, tweaking content and asking writers to make some changes. But even if there are no copyeditors involved, this is what an average proofreader is expected to do:

  • Correct punctuation. Imagine a sentence: “Although Ray says that Ennui created two accounts to mislead others it doesn’t mean that this information is correct.” A comma is obviously missing here: it should come between the words “others” and “it”. Proofreader’s job includes noticing small issues like this.

  • Correct grammar. Copyeditors should do that, but they might also miss something. Proofreaders’ work is much more thorough that is why using the best grammar checker won't be enough.

  • Correct typos. Any accidental mistakes are something proofreaders address. 

What Is the Difference between Editing and Proofreading: Examples

Examples and short descriptions always help illustrate points more clearly. You already learned what differentiates copyediting and proofreading. Now check the table below.



Involves work with a draft

Involves work with a final document

Deals with content primarily

Deals with language issues primarily

Improves tone and style

Corrects mistakes only without adding or re-writing anything

Has several definitions

Has one specific definition

Often requires contact with a writer

Doesn’t require contact with anybody

Takes a lot of time

Doesn’t take much time

Several Important Points

Now that you understand the difference between copy editing and proofreading, you know what service to ask for or what task to do if it’s ever required. Demand copyediting when you’re worried about the content and when you think that your text needs serious revision. Ask for the editor's input if you think everything looks great and hope to have your document published. Order proofreading when your language skills are a bit rusty or you want another person to perfect your grammar.

Understand What You Need to Make Sure You’re Happy with Results

If you wondered, “What is copy editing vs proofreading?”, we hope that you’ve found your answer. It’s true that editing, copyediting, and proofreading are somewhat similar, but the last two options aren’t interchangeable. Keep the differences between them in mind when working or hiring others to improve your content. 

Posted by Chris M., September 28, 2020

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