proofreading vs copyediting

So, you’ve spent days working on an article, and now you’re finally ready to gather up your courage and have it marked up by an editing team. That’s fantastic. Submitting your work to editors for review may initially feel invasive, but once all is said and done, you will be one step closer to becoming a published author. The only trouble is you can’t have your work looked over by just one specialist. Many people believe that once their document has reached the maximum number of words, it can be passed down to one individual who will rewrite the piece and fix all the spelling errors. This, unfortunately, is untrue. To ensure the purity of a document, it must be looked over by both a copyeditor and a proofreader. If both parties do not review your article, it will not receive all the attention it needs to flourish, so you must know the difference between proofreading and copyediting. 

Copyediting is your first stop — always.

There are many different types of editors. However, copyeditors are the ones who continually get confused with proofreaders. This is understandable, as copyeditors assume some of the same tasks as proofreaders, but only to a small extent. The job of a copyeditor, in basic terms, is to change an article’s wording, as well as its sentence structure, to make the piece more powerful. Some people call this “content editing,” which may not be the professional terminology, but a term that is still accurate all the same. Before spelling and punctuation can be seriously considered, you have to ensure the content is explicit and exciting to read. A copyeditor is the perfect person to help you with this. Not only will they ensure that your content is straightforward, but they will also perform fact-and consistency checks. If your article contains echo words (repeatedly used), copyeditors will fix that too. 

Once satisfied with the overall content, you can focus on spelling and formatting. That is where proofreaders come in

Proofreading is the final stage in the game.

Unlike copyeditors, proofreaders are not responsible for reworking a writer’s content. Proofreaders are annotators, not editors, and will never make direct adjustments to a document. Instead, they will mark errors missed in previous editorials and add detailed side notes if necessary. Proofreaders are trained to meticulously scan and locate typos, double words, grammar, punctuation, spelling errors, and formatting issues. However, If a proofreader finds a glaring error in sentence structure, they may point it out to the author in a side note. But for the most part, a proofreader will assume that the writer is already happy with the content and focus solely on grammar, spelling and punctuation. 

Why can’t copyediting and proofreading be done at the same time?

The answer is simple: people can only do so much multitasking! Preparing a document for publishing is a painstaking task. There are so many duties involved that accomplishing them all at once isn’t possible. If a copyeditor started looking over a document for spelling errors, they would miss faults in sentence structure. If a proofreader focused on finding faults in sentence structure, they wouldn’t notice the spelling or grammatical errors. You want to submit your best, most polished work as a writer. If you submit a document that is only halfway polished, you will not be leaving publishers with a good first impression of you.

Some freelancers offer proofreading services along with their copyediting services, but they are doing their clients a huge disservice by doing so. Don’t let that get you down, though! Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished overnight!

Do you still need help making an editorial decision? No problem. Visit my contact page (Click Here), and I will point you in the right direction. 

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