Proofreading and copy-editing are often confused, so here's the skinny. Say you write something you want to publish, but you're not sure how it reads. Copy-editing will make sure it's clear and easy to understand and that what's in your head is what the reader will understand.
When that's done and you're ready to distribute or publish the document, proofreading is a final check to make sure that no additional errors have crept in and that all corrections have been made.
Anyone who writes something for external distribution needs a copy-editor to make sure the structure is right and a proofreader to eliminate errors. Business owners, bloggers, translators and many others use both services.
Proofreading & Editing FAQs
Understanding Copy Editing and Proofreading
What is the difference between copy-editing and proofreading?
Copy-editing ensures that your text has a consistent style and tone, flows well, conveys your message and has as few spelling and grammatical errors as possible. Proofreading is a final check for avoidable errors.
What should I look for in a proofreader or copy-editor?
Both copy-editors and proofreaders should have above-average competence in the languages they are correcting. For example, they may have a degree in their native language as well as editing and proofreading certifications.
What does proofreading involve?
Proofreading involves checking an almost-final document or publication for errors. It does NOT involve checking the flow of the copy and effectiveness of the message.
Why You Need a Proofreader or Copy Editor
Why do I need a proofreader or copy-editor?
When you write something yourself, it's easy to see what you expect to see, so you can miss errors when checking. A proofreader or copy-editor who is not as close to the document will often spot ways to improve it.
Why is proofreading important in translation?
Machine translation is widely used in translation, but machines can't always grasp the nuances of the language. Proofreading will help you eliminate mistakes that could completely change the meaning of your writing.
Why is proofreading important in business?
Getting copy wrong can be a costly error in business. Not only can a misplaced comma change the meaning of a piece of writing (people have won lawsuits because of this), but it can negatively affect how potential customers see your business.
How to Work with Proofreaders and Copy Editors
How should I brief a copy-editor?
Your copy-editor needs to know who your target audience is, what exactly you are expecting them to edit and if you have any specific requirements regarding style or tone.
How should I brief a proofreader?
Proofreaders need to know which items you expect them to proofread, and whether they are proofreading blind or comparing current text to a previously edited version.
How long will it take to proofread or copy-edit my work?
Proofreading and copy-editing time varies according to the project. You should expect a full-length book to take several weeks to edit, but Fiverr sellers will turnaround short texts within a week.The Society for Editors and Proofreaders estimates that a proofreader can competently do 10 pages of 300 words within an hour.