Saturday, 8 September 2012

The difference between content-editing, copy-editing and proofreading



What does a content editor do?
If you are trying to save money by writing your own copy, you may decide to hire a content editor at the start of your project — when the copy has been drafted, but still needs work. 

The content editor is primarily concerned with the content, structure and readability of your copy. He/she will also work on your wording, phrasing, spelling, punctuation and grammar.

The content editor will usually be given a free rein to improve the clarity, content, style and readability of the copy. He/she will usually work using word processing software, such as Microsoft Word.

The content editor will check that your copy:
  • conveys your content and ideas to best effect;
  • makes a convincing case or argument;
  • speaks effectively to the target audience;
  • reads well with no ambiguity or capacity for misunderstandings;
  • has enough substance and justification to make its points stick;
  • makes its points clearly, concisely and in the best order;
  • uses correct spellings, punctuation and grammar; and
  • does not make exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims.
The content editor may also make recommendations about additional material that should be included to give the piece credibility.

What does a copy editor do? 
If you are confident about the quality of your content but need someone to make sure it reads correctly and sounds professional, you would hire a copy editor.

The copy editor is less concerned with the quality of the content and more concerned with the quality of the copy. He/she will usually be given a free hand to chop and change the copy as necessary.

The copy editor will make sure your copy:
  • is articulate and reads fluidly;
  • uses a correct and consistent voice, tone and delivery;
  • is presented in a logical order with suitable headings;
  • speaks effectively to the target audience;
  • is structured, formatted and spelt correctly;
  • is technically and grammatically correct; and
  • uses correct punctuation.

What does a proofreader do?

The proofreader is usually brought in at the end of a project, when the copy has been written, edited, approved and presented as a finished product. As such, the proofreader can often only make minor changes that will not impact the overall aesthetic.
The proofreader usually works from a hard copy or PDF of the finished product.

The proofreader's checklist includes: 
  • spelling, grammar and punctuation;
  • styling — consistent headings, fonts, colours etc;
  • typesetting — leading, kerning, line breaks, letter/word spacing etc;
  • photographs and graphics — correctly placed and captioned;
  • ensuring there are no repeated words, headings or paragraphs;
  • ensuring there are no corrupted characters (sometimes caused when moving copy from one software programme to another);
  • contents and page numbers correspond; and
  • checking for unfortunate or inappropriate juxtaposition of text and images on the same page.
Three different services — three different results


In an ideal world you would use all three services — however, in the current economic climate, this can be prohibitively expensive for many businesses.


Jenny Lucas Copywriting offers comprehensive and flexible copy-editing that can combine all three services at a price that won't break the bank.

For more information, or a free quote, why not contact me with the details of your project.

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