Copy Editor? Proofreader? What's the Difference?

I'm glad you asked! Copy editing and proofreading are two very different stages of the publication process. Copy editing comes first and tidies up the manuscript to be formatted. Proofreading is the final stage before publishing, when the typesetter has laid everything out – kind of like a safety net. Let me break it down for you:

Copy editors deal with:

  • errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • consistency
    • naming, spelling, capitalisation, hyphens, font, numerals
    • plot, character descriptions, setting
    • repetition
  • continuity errors and plot holes
  • problems with transitions or syntax
  • improving the overall flow and quality of the writing
  • keeping the writer's voice consistent.

Proofreaders deal with:

  • formatting and quality of the final print layout
    • aesthetics: hanging words, blank space
    • omissions or missing pages
    • unusual word or page breaks
    • accidental repetition
  • page numbering
  • checking media (photos, graphs, tables) and caption content match
  • checking for errors introduced in the layout process.

The crossover:

  • spelling
  • punctuation
  • capitalisation
  • typos.

I hope this has been helpful in deciding which service you might need. Feel free to comment below or contact me if you have any questions!