Proofreading and copyediting are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually two different stages in the editing process. Whether you need a copyeditor or a proofreader depends on where you are in that process, but if you’re not sure which one you need, here’s a brief overview of each type of service.
What is copyediting?
Copyediting is in-depth editing at the word level. After your book has gone through higher-level edits—developmental (plot for fiction, message for nonfiction) and content (voice and style)—a copyeditor will focus on your words and sentences and rewrite them as necessary to ensure your book reads as easily and enjoyably as possible.
A copyeditor works on:
- Correcting errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation
- Double-checking facts and consistency
- Fixing overused words
- Adjusting sentence structure
- Improving overall readability
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the last stage in the editing process before publication. After you’ve had your manuscript edited at the developmental, content, and copy levels, a proofreader will check it for any final typos and mistakes that you or your editors may have missed and make sure that your book is ready to be published!
A proofreader checks for:
- Overlooked mistakes in grammar and syntax
- Misspelled and misused words
- Double words
- Missing or wrong punctuation
- Inconsistencies missed by the editors
- Formatting issues
How do I know if I need a copyeditor or a proofreader?
Even after learning what they are, it’s easy to confuse proofreading and copyediting, but there’s a simple way to know which one your book needs right now.
If you want your sentence structure fixed up and your words changed to sound better, or if no one has worked on your manuscript past the story and style levels, you need a copyeditor.
If you’ve already had your book thoroughly edited and you’re almost ready to publish it, but you need someone to go through it one more time to check for last-minute errors, you need a proofreader.
Ideally, your book will go through both copyediting and proofreading before you publish, but now you know which one you need at each stage of the editing process!