Proofreading or copy-editing?

Proofreading, copy-editing – what’s the difference?

Traditionally, proofreading and copy-editing were two very distinct functions. A proofreader was usually the last person to look at the document in its final form before it was sent back to the typesetter for final corrections and then on to the printer. Because the text was in its final designed form, the scope to introduce changes at such a late stage was very limited. A copy-editor, on the other hand, was involved at a much earlier stage in production, and would be able to make more extensive changes to the text.

These days, publishing is no longer the preserve of traditional publishing houses producing printed books and journals. Now practically every business and organisation is a ‘publisher’ producing information for the public, whether it’s product or service information, statutory reports or sales and marketing materials, or any number of other purposes. The line between the functions of proofreading and copy-editing has become increasingly blurred, and often someone will ask for a proofreader when what they actually want is a copy-editor or a combination of the two, a proof-editor.

I can proofread, copy-edit or proof-edit your document in whatever format you require. I am trained and experienced in the use of:

  • Track Changes on Microsoft Word
  • the British Standards Institution’s proofreading symbols for working on paper
  • PDF commenting tools for working on PDF documents
  • if you’re happy to let me loose on your website’s back end, I can even work directly on your website’s content management system.


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