A copyeditor has several tasks when looking over an article or essay, but the primary focus is ensuring the tone of each piece matches the content from that publication or company across all of its platforms.
Copyediting places a heavy emphasis on the material within each piece of writing, specifically on the voice and accuracy of the content. Along with checking for spelling and grammar errors, the copyeditor ensures the writing makes sense. Does the story have enough character development? Is this article giving a fair representation of an argument? These are questions the copyeditor must address.
A proofreader is the last line of defense against spelling and grammar errors. They search for misspellings, lack of consistency with fonts or text size, incorrect verb usage, and other common mistakes.
The proofreader does not offer suggestions or edits regarding the content of the material, or the flow of the writing. They focus entirely on potential errors in the writing.
An editor is someone that provides feedback or revisions on early drafts of the writing. Similar to a copyeditor, the editor is focusing their efforts on the flow of the writing and looking for ways to improve the content. However, while a copyeditor seeks to ensure consistency across publications or company content, the editor directs their efforts at improving the overall material.
They suggest ways to better develop plot lines, including larger changes such as changing characters or plot elements altogether. Editing is a deeper dive than copyediting, and is often used earlier in the writing process.
Now that you have seen a comparison of copyediting vs. proofreading vs. editing, which one do you need at this stage in your writing? Whether you choose to seek out a professional editor, editing service, or just ask a friend, be sure to specify exactly what kind of support you need.