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Proofreading and Copy-Editing - the Difference?

Broadly speaking, proofreading is checking your document for error. Copy-editing is more complex and also involves checking for sense, factual accuracy, ambiguity, etc. 

In publishing, a copy-editor prepares copy for typesetting, including resolving queries with the author and specifying the technical aspects of production. Then a proofreader checks the typeset proof to make sure that the copy-editor's instructions have been followed and that no errors have been missed (or introduced!).

Standard proofreading checks include:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Typos/lits
  • Headings layout
  • Lists layout
  • Font styles and sizes
  • References

Additional copy-editing checks include:

  • Reading for sense
  • Jargon/colloquialisms
  • Use of lists
  • Sentence length
  • Use of white space
  • Active/passive sense
  • Headings hierarchy
  • Potential copyright issues

Corrections to spelling, punctuation, etc. are marked straight on to the document, in red or blue ink (hard copy), tracked changes (Word files) or mark-up (PDF files).

More substantial changes, potential issues and suggested amendments, revisions, etc. are presented, via a query sheet (hard copy) or inserted comments (Word and PDF files), for the author to decide whether to implement or adapt them.

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