HOMEOUR BLOGBeyond Spelling Errors: Understanding Editing vs. Copy Editing

Beyond Spelling Errors: Understanding Editing vs. Copy Editing

This article covers the following questions:

  • What is content editing?
  • What is copyediting?
  • What is The Difference Between Editing and Copy Editing?
  • What is the Difference Between Copy Editing and Developmental Editing?
  • What does a copyeditor do?
  • What is the difference between proofreading and copy editing
  • What is the difference between a copy editor and a proofreader?
  • The Art of Editing

Yes. editing is a form of art just like writing is. Why? Because it is not just about grammar and punctuation. Your editor is like your test reader. He wears many hats in order to tie up all of the loose ends of a piece and take it to the next level. 

With his fresh eyes and his unique perspective on content strategy, he tightens things up, from minor wording errors to bigger concepts such as SEO keywords. He is here to optimize not just polish.

You may wonder as a writer: "Aren't all editing strategies the same?" "Aren't editors all here to correct my small errors, make me sound clearer and smarter, and make my copy looks good?" 

Well, in the most basic terms, it is a no.

What is Content Editing?

So, what is content editing? Content editing is more than editing. Not satisfied with this definition? 

Okay… Content editing is essential to ensuring that your piece is effective, digestible, and enjoyable to read. It is also essential for ensuring client satisfaction and performance outcomes. 

It's critical in content marketing to cover all of your bases, and content editing can do just that for whatever you're writing — it ensures that all elements are addressed. 

If a piece requires some extra attention in terms of writing quality, content editors often address those edits first and then do an extra read to address the comprehensiveness of the piece. 

Content editing is an essential part of implementing a successful content marketing strategy.  It helps to reinforce your writing and make it work even stronger and bolder. Also, don't be too concerned if your editor appears to be shredding your work. Take it from us: your content editor is your biggest supporter!

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What is Copy Editing?

Now, what is content editing? Copy editing is a little less than content editing! It is the process of ensuring that content materials are accurate before publication but in tighter terms.

These content materials can include:

  • Blog posts & Articles
  • Web copies
  • Ads
  • Brochures, menus & E-books
  • Newsletters
  • E-mails
  • Academic essays and paperwork
  • And more!

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The editing process in copy editing primarily entails removing mechanical issues and highlighting inconsistencies in the following:

  • Correctness

  • Clarity

  • Comprehensiveness

  • Concision

  • Consistency

Also, read: Polishing Your Work: Tips for Editing Your Dissertation

These are the 5C’s secrets of copy editing!

Copy editing (aka. copyediting) is the process of revising written material (the copy) to improve readability, as well as ensuring that the copy is free of grammatical, spelling, semantical, terminological, punctuation, and formatting errors.

Copy editing also ensures that the writer's intended message is clear and easy to understand, readable. They ensure that any factual data in the text is correct.

What is The Difference Between Editing and Copy Editing?

The goal of content editing is to create comprehensive and productive content that is useful to the reader, optimized for the web, and pleasing to the client.

A content editor assesses the overall structure and quality, the sentences and structures, the intuitive flow of ideas, and adherence to brand voice and style — all while paying close attention to content concepts.

Copy editing, on the other hand, focuses solely on the copy. The fundamentals of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A copy editor isn't there to question your piece's argument or make higher-level suggestions; it's assumed that the piece's overall structure is already pretty solid.

They'll also look over the piece's design, title, meta, author bio, and other details to ensure everything is in order, but only for typos and mistakes.

What is The Difference Between Editing and Copy Editing? Let’s sum it all up in a summary table, shall we?


Content Editor

Copy Editor

Verifies syntax, grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.

Audience-focused editing


Edits to improve readability

Edits according to the style guide, the tone, the brand voice, etc.


Verifies the accuracy of the copy, etc.


Provides SEO feedback


Analyzes and evaluates content marketing strategy best practices


Also, read: Perfecting the Art: Qualifications for Professional Proofreader

What Does a Copyeditor Do?

Now that you know what is copy editing and what is the difference between editing and copy editing, it is time to answer the question: “What does a copyeditor do?”

Copy editors will look over a piece of written content to see how it flows and if it is reasonable and fair.  They are expected to investigate structural and organizational issues, but not to solve them.

Copy editors are also known as sub-editors in the magazine and newspaper industries.

First and foremost, they make a quick sweep of the piece to get a feel for it. Copy editors' responsibilities vary, but they usually include some combination of the following:

  • Check if there are glaring, pretty evident errors.

  • Check spelling, grammar, and punctuation while providing alternative wordings for awkward phrasings, inappropriate jargon, cliches, and weak words. 

  • Check sentence consistency and concision.

  • Check if headers are formatted correctly and consistently.

  • Check the length of the text and accommodate it to the appropriate formatting style.

  • Check the text readability (are there large blocks of text that could be broken up with bulleted lists, design elements, and so on?)

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  • Check that the style is all internally consistent and that it adheres to the style guidelines.

  • Check that images and tables are consistent with their descriptions.

  • Boost phrases or sentences that are ambiguous or illogical for absolute readability.

  • Check citations for accuracy.

They do a more focused edit once that's done. Some sections are read a second and a third time to ensure they are correct.

Copy editors are generally expected to make minor changes to smooth out the awkward passages, they do not have the authority to rewrite a text line by line, nor do they prepare material on behalf of an author!

Keep in mind, that a copy editor does not do everything. He doesn’t do the following:

  • Writing

  • Rewriting 

  • Paraphrasing 

  • Ghostwriting

  • Research beyond fact-checking

If your content editors are your best friend, a copy editor is your sibling whom you can rely on to convey the truth about whether or not your words are working.

After the copy editing process is completed, the text will be sent to a proofreader for a final review.

What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Copy Editing?

Copy editing and proofreading are frequently confused terms. While both types of editing are necessary for the writing process, they differ significantly:

What is the Difference Between Proofreading and Copy Editing?

  • Copy editing: The first step in the editing phase of the writing process.

  • Proofreading: The second and final stage of the writing process.

Also read: Mastering Technical Translation: Types & Qualifications of Top Translators

Before the text is printed, it is copy-edited. 

Proofreading is typically performed on a proof(the printed copy of the final text).

Ultimately, copy editing is about recognizing and assisting you in realizing the full potential of your writing. So, if you believe your copy could be improved, hire a copy editor to assist you, and if you believe that your copy is perfect but only needs a quick grammar and spelling check, hire a proofreader instead.

Read Also: What is the difference between revising editing and proofreading

What is The Difference Between a Copy Editor and a Proofreader?

 Proofreader vs Copy Editor: what’s the difference?

The first line of defense against writers’ errors is copy editors. Proofreaders are the final line of defense, catching the errors that the copy editors may have overlooked or even introduced during editing.

The proofreader either reads the copy without comparing it to the edited version of the text, or he/she compares it to the edited version of the text to identify formatting errors.

Although proofreaders may do light editing, their primary goal is to eliminate typos and formatting errors. They can even choose to have the content returned to the copy editor if more extensive changes are required!

Read also: The Road to Professional Translation: Translation Methods

What is The Difference Between Copy Editing and Developmental Editing?

As we explained above, copy editing consists of "Creating the best piece of writing possible." It is the process of ensuring that a piece of text is clean, clear, consistent, and concise in terms of spelling, grammar, style, and punctuation. All that plus ensuring that it is appropriate for the intended audience and conveys the intended meaning and that it is ready for publication.

Developmental editing, (aka. substantive editing) entails providing feedback on structural elements such as the plot, characters, theme, and idea organization of novels, short stories, nonfiction books, or other writing pieces.

Following the preparation of a book manuscript, your writing is frequently reviewed by numerous editors to guarantee that it flows well and is error-free. The first step in this process is typically developmental editing, which entails a thorough review to ensure that you have a clear focus and are aligned with your target audience.

Typically, developmental editors collaborate with authors to resolve "big picture" issues in their manuscripts.

Developmental editing is basically a stage of the book editing process in which editors thoroughly evaluate an author's work to help determine what it requires to be ready for publication.- A Manuscript Critique!

They will point out where your book's structure is solid and where it needs improvement. They'll also give you ideas on how to approach making those changes. However, it is entirely up to you to make these specific changes to your story!

Developmental editing is typically performed after a book's first or second draft. It includes assessing:

  • The genre of your book. What kind of story are you working on?

  • The subject of your book. What exactly is the subject of this book? 

  • The structure of your book. Does the story contain all of the elements of storytelling? Have you communicated your point clearly and organized the ideas in a logical flow from the beginning to the end of the book?

  • Characters from your book. 

  • Your book's point of view.

  • Your readers' expectations. 

What is The Difference Between Copy Editing and Developmental Editing? A developmental editor will not change the content on your book's pages. It's NOT Line Editing! It's NOT Copy Editing or Proofreading! They are not going to rewrite sentences or paragraphs! Instead, they'll provide you with comprehensive feedback on your entire book, which will help you rewrite your next draft.

Only after you've revised, reshaped, and developed your manuscript will it be ready for a copy edit and proofreading. 

Read also: Unlocking the Path to Certification: Becoming a Translator in the UAE

Last Words

A copy editor and a proofreader should be on every writer’s team! You can only catch so many errors while writing, so it's always a good idea to enlist the assistance of professional copyeditors and expert proofreaders to help you publish the best content possible.

At Leaders Translation Factory, you will have your content edited by both! Just send us a quote for your editing needs and we will have your copies all perfectly edited!

Upload your file now and watch it seamlessly transform into any language of your choice!

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