• Copyediting comes after you’ve finalised your structure and before your final proofread. It catches any errors from the writer and other editors.
  • Proofreading comes right at the end, after all the editing. It catches any errors missed by the copyeditor.
  • Copyediting includes everything in proofreading, but proofreading doesn’t cover everything in copyediting.
  • Proofreading primarily focuses on fixing the basics such as any errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Copyediting focuses on making sure your writing is accurate and readable. It looks at grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as word choice, language, repetition, tone, and more.
  • It’s important to have your written content proofread before publishing to avoid any post-print regrets!

Proofreading and copyediting are both text editing services but are used at different stages of the process. Proofreading is the last step of editing before publication while copyediting comes before this, after developmental and line editing.

What is copyediting?

Copyediting comes after you’ve finalised your structure and before the final proofreading.

While copyediting services do include the same review process as proofreading, it covers far more than just checking for spelling errors. It focuses on improving the overall quality of a document by looking at word choice, repetition of words, language, and so on.

Copyediting goes beyond grammar, spelling and punctuation. It involves a word-by-word review of the text to ensure that it’s not only grammatically and syntactically correct, but also free of mistakes in style and fact. Copyediting looks at the consistency in language and tone of voice, and addresses minor formatting issues to make sure your work reads smoothly from start to finish—and most importantly, make sure it’s clear what you’re trying to say!

Remember: a copyeditor is not just there to correct typos; they’re also responsible for making sure your document reads smoothly, clarifying any confusing points, fixing awkward phrasing, improving the flow of your writing, and adjusting its style to make it more readable. A professional copyeditor will make suggestions on how to enhance your writing, and not just fix obvious spelling mistakes.
They’ll be looking at every aspect of your writing so that the content is clear and consistent throughout. For example, making sure all characters’ names are spelt correctly consistently throughout the manuscript to avoid disruptive inconsistencies.

A good copyeditor will address such issues as:

  • Grammatical and punctuational errors (i.e. spelling)
  • Inconsistencies in tense and verb forms
  • Rhetorical effectiveness (is this the best way to say that?)
  • Word choice (is this word better than that one?)
  • Organisation or flow (does this paragraph need a subheading?)

What is proofreading?

Proofreading comes after all the editing. It’s the final stage of the editing process before publication, performed by either a proofreader or a copyeditor, or both for double the reassurance. You can think of it as a last look at your writing, to make sure everything is correct before it goes out into the world.

It comes after all the editing and formatting have been completed. This step is important because it helps you find and fix any errors in your spelling, punctuation or grammar, or other language inconsistencies that might have been missed while writing and editing.

The purpose of proofreading is to give your work a final check before publishing and ensure that there are no typos or major formatting issues that could disrupt the flow for readers, without changing the content or meaning of the original work.

Like a copyeditor, a proofreader checks for typos or any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but also pays attention to minor layout and formatting issues such as the consistency in the numbering of pages and figures, use of fonts, text alignment, headings, and line spacing, for instance.

A proofreader can also highlight key areas of text that may need extra attention beyond the proofreading service and is able to recommend that your content gets reviewed by an editor for a closer inspection. For example, this sometimes happens when a proofreader spots inconsistencies in your story, or when they feel that your writing is difficult to understand.

So, why bother with proofreading?

It’s notoriously difficult to proofread your own writing. As the writer, you’re most likely familiar with what you intended to say, which makes it difficult to notice any errors that have slipped into your writing or any areas where the ideas don’t come across as clearly as you’d like.

Despite this, many people skip this step but there’s really no reason to do so. The cost of professional proofreading is minimal compared to the potential for damage if your published writing has errors. This can prevent future work, create bad reputations, and also tarnish relationships with audiences.

Something as simple as a misspelt word or a missing comma can get in the way of your reader’s understanding of what you’re trying to communicate, especially if they don’t know what you meant to say in the first place. That’s why it helps to have an objective proofreader look over your writing with fresh eyes before you publish it.


In a nutshell, a copyeditor is bound to cover proofreading when reviewing your written content, as it’s part and parcel of the service. However, proofreading services do not cover the same level of reviewing and editing as copyediting does.

Sometimes, your content may need a higher level of editing than just a matter of copyediting. There are different levels of editing services, including developmental editing, line editing, and copyediting.

Just remember, before you go and publish that article or send your book to print, consider getting it proofread first. There’s nothing worse than receiving your newly printed book, menu, or brochure, only to find there are spelling mistakes still in there!

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