Proofreading vs. Copy Editing

So, you’re in the #amediting part of the writing process. Congrats! You wrote a book! Now, you’re probably wondering if you need a proofreader or a copy editor.

A lot of the times, these terms are used almost synonymously. However, there are some major differences. Proofreading is the final step before you publish and traditionally includes the following:

  • Correcting mistakes in spelling
  • Correcting typography
  • Correcting grammar and punctuation
  • Checking obvious facts and maintaining the consistency of the text per the style guide.

Some copy editors correct the same things as proofreaders, but there are different levels to copy editing. Copy editing can be light, moderate, or aggressive depending on what the text and author need.

Light Copy Editing includes:

  • Correcting typos, basic grammar, and punctuation
  • Correcting nonverbal dialogue tags
  • Making the style consistent
  • Flagging content inconsistency from chapter to chapter
  • Verifying basic facts
  • Flagging tracking/continuity problems
  • Flagging plot holes
  • Flagging potential libel
  • Flagging any potential copyright issues
  • Creating and/or contributing to the client’s style guide
  • Conducting queries with the author

Moderate Copy Editing includes:

  • Flagging anachronisms
  • Flagging repetition, ambiguous vocabulary, and awkward phrases while offering solutions.
  • Flagging jargon that is unclear.

Aggressive Copy Editing includes:

  • Heavy fact checking
  • Line editing
  • Developmental editing

Many proofreaders offer light copy editing as a part of their proofreading services. When you are finished with your draft, you must decide how much of the editing you will do independently before seeking out services. You also must research potential proofreaders and copy editors and find out what services they do and do not provide.

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