The Difference Between Copyediting and Proofreading

Copyediting includes checking written material for sentence construction, grammar, spelling, punctuation issues, and fact-checking before it’s prepared for printing, posting and/or publication. I always ask crucial questions about your material: Does it make sense? Is the meaning likely to be misunderstood? Does it appeal to your target reader? Does it have logic, consistency, flow, and cohesion?

A copy editor may also do a rewrite, if necessary, to fix any problems with transitions, wordiness, jargon, and to ensure the style of the piece fits with the type of publication and the publisher’s requirements. These revisions often necessitate working with the writer to fine-tune the piece.

Copyediting also requires familiarity with style and the ability to understand and comply with publishers’ style guides and/or published style manuals. I have worked with both US and UK publishers in books, magazines, and journals. I have experience with The Chicago Manual of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, and The Manual for Research in the Arts and Humanities.

Proofreading takes place when the material is a finished product – when it has been edited, laid out, and designed. Proofreading does not involve major changes to the content; rather, it calls for finding typographical mistakes and minor errors in text and the formatting, and confirming that the material is ready for publication.

While copyediting and proofreading are separate tasks, obviously, there is some overlap. Now that you know the difference, which skill would better meet your needs?

My Availability

I work from home on a flexible schedule. I divide my time between residences in Burke, Virginia and Melbourne, Florida, and traveling abroad. Nevertheless, with the Internet and email, distance is seldom a problem. Obviously, my availability to work on your project depends on my existing obligations. After talking with you about your expectations and the size of your project, I will be completely honest with you as to whether I am a good match for your needs and whether I can meet your publication deadlines.

I work in MSWord and edit with the Track Changes function, allowing the client to see my edits and comments on the draft copy. I will also communicate with you via phone, Zoom, or email, as needed.

Fees and Payment

 I charge $20 for each 1000 words to copyedit and $15 for each 1000 words to proofread. I charge separately for indexing. This arrangement usually adds up to $15 to $25 an hour, which, according to Writer’s Digest, is the standard fee. I accept payment via PayPal.

If your piece requires multiple edits of the same pages, the same fee applies for each successive edit. I don’t charge for emails or quick phone calls about the progress of your project.

If you want me to critique your piece and coach you on your writing skills, I charge $50 an hour. We can negotiate the number of hours in advance, or work on an ad hoc basis. I suggest you purchase my book: Improve Your Writing with NLP.

Contact me for more information or to discuss your project. Your message matters!