11 Jan 2024

What is the difference between copyediting and proofreading?

 Click any of the frequently asked questions below to see the corresponding answer.

Do I need both copyediting and proofreading?

We would say so. Achieving acceptable levels of quality and accuracy is harder than it first seems. There's a lot to think about and you can get distracted. If you’ve copyedited a document, it’s much easier to then skip over the sort of mistakes that a proofreader would pick up. One pair of eyes is not enough.

What is 'copy'?

The copy is the raw material. It can be anything – a novel, website, journal article, leaflet, podcast, textbook, exam, menu, flyer, game or even a T-shirt – and it may include various kinds of text, tables, graphs, diagrams, illustrations or animations.

What is a 'proof'?

Copyeditors, designers and typesetters make many small changes. There has to be a quality check to prove that the changes have worked. That's the proof: supposedly the final version. The proofreader marks any last-minute corrections on the proof, and the printer or webmaster adds them in before pressing the Go button.

On the difference between copyediting and proofreading: They are both editing, which is wrestling with words; but proofreading is like wrestling in a broom cupboard.

Gerard M-F Hill

Mentoring and tests director 2005



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