Editing and Proofreading

Precision in presentation says so much about your business, so make sure your copy is beautifully constructed and correctly spelt and you’re halfway to making that critical first impression.

What’s the difference between proofreading and copy editing?

Copy editing is the process of taking raw copy and transforming it into a final state. That could mean applying a “house style” to the content or simply ensuring it’s grammatically correct. Often, the person who wrote the copy will be an expert in their field but might not have the time or the language skills to create polished, readable copy in the intended language. The editor will ensure that gap is closed up. Editors also ensure the structure of the work (e.g. heading levels, image placement, typography) obeys the chosen style and logic. Editing assumes a degree of creative licence to reach the desired end point.

Proofreading shares many of the skills of copy editing, but it is purely a quality control procedure. In its original sense, the “proof” refers to a single print of the typeset work that is made with the sole purpose of being checked for errors. The proofreader will either be checking pre-formatted copy to ensure it obeys the typographic rules (including spelling, grammar and punctuation); or she will be checking plain text for typos before it goes for final formatting. (Ideally, the proofreader will be among the last pairs of eyes to look at a work before it’s published, as errors sometimes enter text via the formatting process although it’s not always possible for this to be the case.)

However, the two terms are colloquially used interchangeably, and with proofreaders’ and copy editors’ jobs overlapping so much, it’s no wonder. Also, the rules of engagement for digital projects are slightly different as an error can easily be corrected online, but not in a run of 100,000 books, magazines or pamphlets.