Content Editing vs Copy Editing vs Proofreading

Wondering what you need? Make an informed decision by understanding the differences in content editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

What’s the difference?

What is content editing?

The goal with content editing is to improve the quality of a piece of writing.

As such it involves making changes to the content, so that it makes sense, is succinct (i.e. not overly wordy), and free of ambiguity.

In other words, content editing can include:

  • Eliminating jargon
  • Rewriting entire paragraphs of text
  • Removing sentences or even entire portions of text as necessary
  • Changing the language or expressions used
  • Reorganizing or restructuring the text

What is copyediting?

This type of editing focuses more on cleaning up the technical aspects of a text. That means ensuring accuracy, style consistency, correct grammar, syntax, and spelling, and proper punctuation. Copyediting sometimes includes proofreading.

What is proofreading?

Proofreading happens once a piece has been edited, so it is the last step before publication. In other words the goal here is to make sure that the material is free of typographical errors and ready for publishing. Proofreaders do not make or suggest any major changes to the content.

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How to choose between editing and proofreading

The ideal scenario involves having your work edited and proofread. But the reality is that sometimes that’s just not possible.

Maybe there isn’t enough time for it to go through both processes. Or it could simply be too expensive. So how do you choose which service you need most?

The simplest way to determine what you need is to consider the following:

  • If you are happy with the quality of your text, i.e. what you’ve written → proofread
  • If you feel that your writing can still be improved → edit
  • On the other hand, if you’re struggling to write sales and marketing text → work with a copywriter

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