What’s the difference between a proofreader and copyeditor? You’ve heard the terms, but which do you need?
I’ll admit, it can be quite confusing. And depending on your project, you may need both (gasp!).
These are the guys with the eagle eyes. The ones who will catch the missed periods or the typos where you meant to say, “and,” but really typed, “ad.”
Proofreaders scan your writing strictly for the purpose of making sure it’s flawless. They look for misspelled words, grammatical mistakes, tense agreement, typos, and so forth.
However, proofreaders do not edit for style or flow, and they will not make suggestions on how you can improve your writing.
Copyeditors do exactly as their title implies: edit copy. Proofreading may often be included in copyediting services, but that is not the copyeditor’s main job.
If you hire a copyeditor, he or she will look for structure, flow, style, and ways to improve your actual content. If your project is a whitepaper, the copyeditor may look for ways to simplify text or improve your marketing “hook.” If your project is a novel, the copyeditor may read for story arcs, dialogue, narration and voice.
Which should you hire: proofreader or copyeditor?
If you need someone to edit a 10- or 20-page report, or possibly even some website content, I might recommend hiring a copyeditor.
However, if you’re a self-published author, I suggest you invest in hiring BOTH. Why? The copyeditor will look for ways to improve your story, characters, plot line, narration, flow, voice, story arcs, etc. However, for a manuscript that’s 80,000 words long, you’ll want to hire a second pair of eagle eyes—a proofreader—to ensure your work is flawless before sending it out for the world to read.
Other than that, which type of editor you need really boils down to you:
- Are you happy with the way your project sounds, but just need someone to scan it for mistakes? Hire a proofreader.
- Do you need stylistic or structural help? Call a copyeditor.
What have been your experiences working with copyeditors and proofreaders? Do you have anything to add to this blog post?
Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?