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  • Writer's pictureKate Legge

Copy Editing vs. Proofreading: In a Nutshell

Even though the task of a Copy Editor and Proofreader are similar, there are a number of differences in their responsibilities.

There is often some confusion over the differences between Copy Editing and Proofreading, especially when they both require editing of text.

Copy Editing

The tasks involved include checking written material for grammar, spelling, style, and punctuation issues before it’s prepared for proofreading.

A copy editor may also dramatically restructure a text, if necessary, to correct any problems with transitions, wordiness, jargon, and to ensure the style of writing fits with the publication.

According to the Society for Editors and Proofreaders:

"A copy-editor makes sure that an author’s raw text, or copy, is correct in terms of spelling and grammar and is easy to read so that readers can grasp his or her ideas.
A copy-editor also tries to prevent embarrassing errors of fact, alert the publisher to any possible legal problems and ensure that the typesetter can do a good job."


When the material has been edited, laid out, and designed, the proofreader searches for typographical errors. Essentially, the task is to meticulously read a text and correct errors of punctuation, grammar, referencing and syntax of a text.

It is not their job to suggest major changes to the text; rather, complete minor corrections and confirm the material is ready for publication.

According to the Society for Editors and Proofreaders:

“The proofreader reads the copy for consistency in usage and layout, for accuracy in the text and references and for typesetting errors.
The proofreader, however, is only acting as a quality check, making sure that the copy-editor or typesetter has not missed something. He or she is not responsible for overall consistency and accuracy.”


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