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Copy Editing vs Proofreading: What’s the Difference and Which Do You Need?

在专业出版中,复制编辑是改善作家作家的行为。Proofreading, on the other hand, is a safety net that ensures that the author and copy editor didn't miss anything. These are two different jobs with the same goal: making a piece of writing as readable and error-free as possible.

In this article, we’ll do a quick dive into the work that copy editors and proofreaders do and help you understand whichtype of editingyour manuscript needs at any given time. If you want to cut straight to the chase, you can find out yourself by taking our quiz.

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Working to style guides

copyediting vs proofreading | The covers of the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Stylebook

Atrained and experienced copy editorwill ensure that a piece of writing adheres to the publisher’s chosen style guide. Say, for example, you’re an author who’s written this sentence:


如果这是针对小说的,副本编辑将确定它应该遵循Chicago Manual of Style。他们将通过将“十四岁的年轻人”(因为这是一个复合的形容词)和斜体化小说的标题编辑这条线。

The fourteen-year-old boy put down his copy of暮。

如果您是为遵循的报纸专栏写的AP Stylebook,复制编辑器将编辑为“ 14”为“ 14”(在AP中,数字以上的数字被写成数字),并在小说标题上使用引号。

The 14-year-old boy put down his copy of “Twilight”

Some manuscripts won’t strictly adhere to any established guide (for example, if a novel is written in a screenplay format). If this is the case, the copy editor may create a bespoke stylesheet that lays out any unique spelling and formatting. This stylesheet will ensure consistency and help the proofreader understand what is a mistake and what is intentional.


复制编辑vs proofreading | Winnie the Pooh squinting to read a paper

Depending on the remit they receive, many copy editors will also suggest edits to improve the manuscript’s readability and accuracy. Let’s say that an author has written this:




New writers often worry that an editor will take a hatchet to their writing, eradicating all traces of their ‘voice’. However, an experienced, professional copyeditor will be sensitive to the author’s unique style — tweaking the copy in ways that will help their voice truly sing.



Learn how Reedsy can help youcraft a beautiful book.

What is proofreading?

复制编辑vs proofreading | David Suchet as Poirot, examining a document
Much like Agatha Christie’s immortal Poirot, a good proofreader misses nothing. (Image: ITV)

In traditional publishing, the proofreading stage comes directly before the book goes to print. After the copy has been edited, a设计师要么typesetter将创建一个文件以发送到打印机。在他们承诺之前打印20,000份硬副本, they will create what’s called a ‘galley proof’— a test version of the book. A final digital version will also be evaluated forebooks about to be published



  • Incorrect numbering of pages;
  • 不准确指数;
  • 未对准文字;
  • 单词之间的其他(或缺少)空间;
  • Incorrect paragraphing.

A proofreader’s list of responsibilities is often broader than what we’ve laid out above. For example, with non-fiction or journalistic writing, they might also fact-check the manuscript.

Now that we’ve established the kinds of tasks involved in copy editing and proofreading, let’s look at where they might fit into an author’s publishing journey.

Which service do you need?

如果您是独立作家self-publish a book, one of the things you’ll need to manage is editing your manuscript. Through online marketplaces like Reedsy, you can find qualified and experienced copy editors and proofreaders in just a few minutes. The real challenge is knowingwhento hire them.

Copy editafteryour structure is finalized

作为一个文字编辑将专注于个性化l sentences and paragraphs of your manuscript, you’ll first want to make sure you’re satisfied with your book’s structure. If there’s a chance you’ll cut out chapters, add new ones in, or tinker with certain passages — don’t get a copy editor yet! You’ll either have to get another copy edit later or pay a professional to edit something that won’t make it into the final book.




- 最初于2021年3月24日出版