The Biggest Difference Between Copy Editing and Proofreading and Why Both Are Important
When creating a written piece, using the right terminology is essential if you should hire a freelancer for these duties.
What follows is an explanation of both terms.
Editing occurs early on in the document's life cycle.
Editing is actually going through the document and looking for errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling.
It also entails revising the piece for consistency, style, and ensuring the author's "voice" is intact throughout.
Editing also means cutting out or moving sections if they do not fit or would not make sense.
The editor, in communication with the author, will make suggested changes.
He or she will use standard editing or proofreader marks to indicate changes to a document.
If you frequently edit your own work, it would be beneficial to memorize these proofreader's symbols, should you need to have someone else actually make the revisions.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary website has a list of the most frequently used symbols.
A good editor will make the proofreader's job much easier by cutting down on eleventh hour revisions.
Note: many freelancing editors specialize in certain types of writing - there are fiction editors, science/medical editors, business editors and many others.
If you decide to hire a freelancer, it is best to find one in your specialty.
A web search on your niche + "editor" should yield the names of specialty editors.
Proofreading occurs later in the document's preparation, after the piece has been edited and is almost ready for publication.
He or she will read the "proof" - a preliminary final version of the document and may proof it side-by-side with the original.
The proofreader will examine the piece for typos, but also check the layout and placement of illustrations or graphs.
They have less freedom than the editor to make major changes to the final draft.
Nowadays, making a proof is usually done via a computer printout, whereas in the past, proofs were made by a typesetter.
If a proofreader fails to notice an error, it could be a very costly mistake, especially when publishing books, magazines, or brochures.
He or she is considered the final set of eyes to look over a document.
Unlike an editor, they are not usually in communication with the author.
Both job functions are important to creating quality writing.
If you edit/proof your own work, it is best to set it aside for a day or two and then make changes with fresh eyes.
When outsourcing these duties, make clear what your expectations are to the freelancer - are you looking for an editor or someone to proofread the copy?