Copyediting vs Proofreading
When a writer takes a long sigh of relief after they are done with writing their manuscript, that's a call for a battle for the post-writing phase. Today, we are going to settle it once and for all. Let's explore the discussion of copyediting vs proofreading, and try to solve all the question marks around this topic.
Copyediting vs Proofreading: What Comes First?
This question can be answered based on either importance or chronology. In chronological order, copyediting should come first. Or better yet, all editing should come before proofreading.
What happens when you get your manuscript proofread first and then the editor makes some changes and leaves any mistakes in the document? For such obvious reasons, proofreading should always be the last step when the manuscript is all final and ready to be published. It is supposed to be the last line of defence against errors in the text.
Suppose that you are an author who has written a manuscript, and you're now proceeding to finalize it and turn it into a published book. You have chosen two steps to be necessary for you; copyediting and proofreading. And now you know that you need your manuscript to see a copy editor first. What do you think the copy editors will do to your manuscript? Let's find out what they usually do.
What Does Copyediting Mean?
Copyediting means going through the manuscript through a microscope to make any changes that may be necessary to cleanse the book of errors of grammar, style, syntax, composition, and punctuation. It can be a detailed activity influencing the outlook for some books, or a simpler check to solve obvious issues for others.
What Does a Copy Editor Do?
It depends upon how much you've spent on the editor, what specific editing services you've demanded from them, what kind of material they're going to be editing, the amount of research work it'll take, and the number of words in the text.
The copyedit is only a rough draft of changes made in the text mechanically, inconsistencies in the style guide and use of language whether it's American English or British English, formatting errors, and suggestions to improve a character description, plot points, word usage, etc. A high level copyedit will also employ:
- Fact-checking to protect writers from claiming such facts in the content that can't be backed with evidence.
- Taking care of loose ends left in the writing.
- Continuity errors.
- Visible differences in style to remove the obvious switch from the words of the author to the work of a ghostwriter.
What is the Difference Between Copyediting and Editing?
A lot of people think that copyediting and editing, in general, are the same thing, but they're not. Copyediting is not just some technical jargon made popular by language nerds. Editing is an umbrella term and copyediting or copy editing, however you choose to spell it, is one element of the editing process.
Other than editing and proofreading, the editing process also involves developmental editing, structure editing, and line editing. There may be some common ground in the specific operations involved in each of those types of editing, but the approach with which the editors tackle a draft is what differentiates between the editing types.
Is Copy Editing One Word?
Copy editing is two different words but they're also acceptably spelled as a single word. The term copy originally meant a written account of something. This term is often associated with news and an editor who edits news articles and journals is called a copy editor.
The term expanded out of journalism and into the publishing industry. Today copy editing is used for any category of content that needs to be edited following methods that are similar to copyediting. Therefore it is widely accepted to be used for books as well.
Proofreading is the last stop of a quality check in the book editing process. Proofreaders are not copyeditors. It's not the proofreader's job to edit the document on the level that a copy editor does. They only make sure that there are no mistakes in grammar, spelling, punctuation, font usage, and formatting left in the book before it is finalized for publishing.
Having the need to hire a copy editor or a proofreader is not a mark of shame. Naturally, a writer focuses on the content of the book in their writing process. If they become their own editor and proofreader, stopping at every single sentence to correct themself, it'll take them a long time to reach the point of publication. Unwavering focus is important for a writer to work effectively.
What Does Hiring a Proofreader Look Like?
A proofreader is the guardian angel for the authors because they save them from embarrassment after the book is published. In terms of interaction, a copyeditor sends back the draft via email with comments and changes, an editing tool that writers are well acquainted with. The copyedits are not finalized until the author approves them. And in that process, there may be discussions between the two parties, whether it's just email or conference calls or maybe even physical meetings.
In the case of proofreading, sometimes the author may not even know their email address, let alone discuss anything. This wide difference is due to the nature of the services. The proofreader just reads the draft to remove basic mistakes in grammar, spelling, and punctuation before the book is sent forth for publication.
What's the Difference Between Copyediting and Proofreading?
The differences between copyediting and proofreading lie in the very distinction that a copyeditor's puts in the work to go through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, and a proofreader's job is to go through the text superficially going over all the words looking for spelling errors, missing or incorrect punctuation, inconsistencies in writing style and common writing errors that they know from experience are recurring for rough drafts.
Both copyediting and proofreading are essential steps in the publication process of a book. In a big publishing house, the terms copyediting and proofreading are used together because they employ both those operations together.
Can I Use Grammarly as My Proofreader?
If you think that a spell checker can make sure that the material you've written is grammatically accurate, then you're only partially right. Books need to reach a certain threshold of quality before they can be published and accepted by everyone else in the market.
Do I Need a Proofreader Even After Editing?
Self-publishing authors sometimes make the mistake of ordering from the child menu and hire a proofreader expecting them to take care of all the mistakes and issues in the book. Naturally, everyone wants to save their time and money but accepting that you need assistance can ultimately save you more time and money in the long run.
Proofreading is almost always necessary, no matter how you go about accomplishing the task. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
We hope this article will clarify the difference between copyediting and proofreading. You are now well-equipped with all the knowledge you need before you hire a copyeditor and/or proofreader.