Copy editing and proofreading: what’s the difference? 

By September 20, 2018Brilliant Social Media

When I tell people my job title as a Content or Copy Editor, I often notice a vague look of confusion begin to cloud their faces. The best way to clarify the matter? Telling them that I proofread other people’s writing.

But to conflate proofreading with copy editing would be a mistake. Proofreading is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as ‘finding and correcting mistakes before a written piece is printed or put online’. As a social media agency, we publish pretty much everything online… so, as you can imagine, proofreading is of the utmost importance to us. Grammatical mistakes, spelling errors and slips of the hand do happen (and it’s my job to find them – and correct them – before they go out on any of our channels)!

Copy editing encompasses proofreading. You’ve got to be able to spot mistakes, inconsistencies and repetition in both roles. But copy editing goes beyond proofreading; it’s not just checking the language used, it’s also examining its meaning.

If you’re copy editing a piece of writing, you’ve got to consider the following questions: is this in the right Tone of Voice for the client? Will this be engaging for the audience? What’s the purpose of this post? What could we do differently? How could I make it better, funnier or more useful?

You don’t have to be a Copy Editor to practice copy editing. It’s an art of reflection not often afforded to those of us working in digital marketing, but I promise it’s worth it. Give it a go and you’ll be rewarded with copywriting that’s more thoughtful, interesting and meaningful than ever before.

Struggling to find the right words? Get in touch, we’ll help you find your voice.