What’s the difference between copy editing and proofreading? And why should you care?

If you’re briefing an editor or proofreader, you’ll need to know the difference or you might not get the result you were hoping for.

Whilst they overlap to some extent, copy editing and proofreading are essentially separate functions, yet work hand in hand to polish your business documents to make them look and sound as professional as possible.

What does a copy editor do?

Copy editing comes before proofreading and is focused on getting your document ready for publication. It’s a copy editor’s role is to make sure your document tells your ‘story’ in the best way possible.

Copy editing increases the impact of your writing, making sure your overarching message is clear as a bell by:

  • Checking the order of information is logical, flowing easily from beginning to end
  • Breaking up content where necessary to make the document easy to read and digest
  • Ensuring the tone of your document suits your message and your audience
  • Picking up inconsistencies by fact-checking
  • Matching text with images, graphs and tables
  • Spotting technical inconsistencies in grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation
  • Ensuring your document is consistent and cohesive; free of errors, omissions and repetition.
  • In short, a copy editor helps you to increase the effectiveness of your writing.

What does a proof reader do?

Once copy-editing is complete, the document will come under the gaze of an eagle-eyed proofreader. Their job is to mark up the final draft to pick up any errors or inconsistencies prior to publication.

Just like the copy editor, proofreading increases the impact of your writing by:

  • Checking that page numbers and content correlate
  • Ensuring that the hierarchy of headings is correct
  • Looking for consistent use of styles. For example, the use of capitals, acronyms and terminology
  • Picking up typos and errors in grammar and punctuation
  • Marking up where text layout looks odd, such as a heading on the last line of a page
  • Ensuring captions match images, graphs and charts

Proofreading really is the last chance to check that everything about your document is as it should be. Correcting any mistakes after publishing can be a very costly exercise, hitting you where it really hurts – your brand and your pocket.

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or head to the contact page.

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