Proofreading and copy editing - what's the difference?

Proofreading and copy editingI’ve been doing plenty of both recently – but what’s the difference between the two?


Proofreading is the process of reviewing text and correcting spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors.

The spelling and grammar check feature on Word is certainly a useful tool. However, it’s not 100% accurate as it doesn’t pick up on certain grammatical anomalies and can become confused by sentence structures.

Copy editing

Copy editing takes the review a step further and looks at style as well as spelling, grammar and punctuation. Revisions are made to improve the flow of language and ensure consistency of tone of voice and tense throughout a document.

Sometimes I revise text to make it suitable for its intended audience or so that it adheres to a company style or brand. I’m often asked to edit a document and reduce the word count (whilst retaining all the relevant information!) so that it fits the layout of a web page or brochure.

Copy editors look for the five Cs: clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent – a practical guide to follow when you’re reviewing a piece of writing.