Proofreading vs Copy Editing

If you are at the stage of considering hiring an editor to review your work it is important that you both set clear expectations. Setting clear expectations in what you expect, or simply clarifying the services offered by the editor.  In the proofreading and editing field there are a number of terms and labels that are used to refer to similar tasks, knowing the difference is essential for transparency.

What is proofreading?

Many people often ask ‘what is proofreading?’ as they confuse the different editorial terms. Proofreading is the process of examining the final draft of a document or text — after it has been edited — this is to ensure that there are absolutely no errors. A proofreader will review your writing for spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos or incorrect use of regional English (i.e. ensuring that you are using American English or British English when necessary).

A professional proofreading service will typically proofread your work using track changes in Microsoft Word, this is to ensure transparency so you know exactly what has been changed and can approve the change.

Track Changes Example

Although in the majority of cases proofreading is now done electronically, proofreading can also be done on a printed version (also referred to as a “hard copy”) or PDF. In such situations you may need to familiarise yourself with the proofreaders shorthands and symbols they use to indicate changes.

What is Editing?

When you are looking to hire the services of a professional editor, your objective is to hire someone to review and change your text with the intent to improve the flow and overall quality of your writing. Unlike a proofreader an editor has the freedom to remove entire sentences or rewrite entire paragraphs. A good editor will correct any obvious errors they come across as they edit your writing. Essentially their main goal is to use their expertise and intuition to ensure that the document makes sense, flows well and to cut down on wordiness, and clarify any ambiguity in your writing.

What is Copyediting?

Copyediting a document in essence is similar to proofreading it. Although with the added expectation of ensuring style consistency. Copyediting is also known as “sub-editing” in places such as the UK, Australia and elsewhere.

When you are looking for a copyeditor, it is important to ensure that they have the talented eye of a proofreader, as well as additional expertise in matters of different styles of writing. Some measures of consistency include making sure names, locations and dates are always treated the same way throughout the text. A copyeditor will also have expert knowledge of different style guides and may also perform fact-checking or have specialised knowledge in a particular field.

To Summarise:

An editor

  • Rewrites sentences and paragraphs to improve flow
  • Makes the text clearer and more understandable for the reader
  • Uses their expertise and knowledge to clarify and improve text

A proofreader

  • Goes beyond the “spellcheck” to catch errors a computer may miss
  • Ensures that there are zero grammatical errors, often after it has already been edited

A copyeditor

  • Proofreads, with an added expertise in order to ensure style consistency appropriate to the publication
Obtain an instant quote for our proofreading and editing service

At Express Proofreading we offer a professional proofreading service for students, academics, businesses and authors. We are able to ensure that your work is not only free from spelling mistakes and grammatical errors but we also check syntax, sentence structure and are able to recommend improvements and suggestions that are relevant to your work. We will also check that your tables and footnotes are accurate and consistent with your bibliography.

To obtain an instant quote for us to proofread and edit your work, visit the Instant Quote page and upload your document and our Quote Generator will calculate an instant quote for you based upon the word count of your document.