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        What Is Copyediting and What Does a Copyeditor Do?

        • calenderApr 04, 2024
        • calender 6 min read

        Ever wondered how your favorite books, articles, or website content stay so well-written? It’s all thanks to the hard work of copyeditors. Behind each well-crafted piece is the magic of copyediting! 

        Let’s dive into the interesting world of copyediting together as we explore the meaning of copyediting, its types, and what a copyeditor does. So get your red pen (or virtual highlighter) ready as we uncover the secrets of copyediting! 

        Get professional editing for your copy!

        Let’s understand what is copyediting with an easy copyediting definition:

        What is copyediting

        Copyediting is the process of reviewing and refining written material to ensure clarity, coherence, consistency, and correctness. To some, this may seem a very basic definition of copy editing, but at its core, this is precisely the service undertaken by a copy editor.

        While copyediting is largely mechanical in nature, it may incorporate some additional checks depending on the document being edited. Think of it as quality control where every punctuation mark is scrutinized to perfection. Copy editing is a prominent type of editing throughout various industries.

        To understand the concept further, we will look at the types of copyediting along with their examples:

        Types of copyediting

        Substantive editing

        A substantive edit under copy editing is a macro-review of the entire document for refined readability, consistency, style, and clarity. In this check, the copy editor goes through different sections and subsections of your document, considering it as a whole.

        This is different from developmental editing, where an editor works with you to improve the intrinsic quality of your content. Developmental editing ensures that your content is of the highest possible value to your reader, while substantive editing ensures that it is easy to read and understand.

        An example of substantive editing would be restructuring and editing a manuscript to improve the narrative flow or reorganizing the sections of a research paper for better coherence.

        Line editing

        Line editing involves restructuring sentences, smoothing out transitions, and refining language to enhance the reader’s experience. In this type of copyediting, the focus shifts to improving the flow, clarity, and overall readability of the text.

        For instance, rephrasing complex sentences while editing a novel to make them more understandable or trimming redundant phrases in a book marketing brochure.

        Mechanical editing

        Mechanical editing is what people popularly imagine editing to be: marking up mistakes in grammar, incorrect spelling and punctuation, awkward phrasing, and run-on sentences. It gives you an error-free document that only requires proofreading before it can be published or submitted.

        So how is copy editing different from proofreading? Both copy editing and proofreading check for mechanical errors in language, but copy editing is far more extensive than proofreading!

        An example of mechanical copy editing is fixing grammatical errors in a manuscript or ensuring consistency in punctuation usage throughout a document.


        This is the final stage of the editing process, focusing on catching typos, grammatical errors, and formatting inconsistencies.

        For example, correcting spelling mistakes in a professional email or ensuring proper citation formatting in an academic paper.

        Quick Quiz

        Test your copyediting prowess with our fun quiz! Can you spot the errors in these sentences? 

        1. Their are many peoples who enjoy going to the park on weekends, but some prefer staying indoors.
        2. The companys new product line, which was launched last month, have received positive feedback from customers.
        3. She is taller then her sister, but she is not as taller as her brother.

        What does a copyeditor do?

        So, what exactly does a copy editor do? They meticulously pore over every word, sentence, and paragraph, armed with a keen eye for detail. Here is a glimpse of what they do:

        Polishing prose

        Copyeditors fine-tune the language to ensure clarity, coherence, and consistency. They fix grammatical errors, eliminate jargon, and rephrase sentences if required, to make the text shine.


        They verify the accuracy of the information, ensuring that all facts, figures, and references are correct and properly cited.

        Style guide adherence

        Copyeditors follow established style guides (such as APA style, Chicago style, or MLA style ) to maintain consistency in formatting, punctuation, and citation style.


        They collaborate closely with authors, writers, and other stakeholders to understand their goals, preferences, and intended audience, ensuring that the final product meets their expectations.

        Do you want to copy edit a text on your own or want to become a copy editor yourself? Here are a few simple tips you can use:

        How to copy edit?

        1. Start with a fresh perspective

        Approach the text with fresh eyes, as if you’re seeing it for the first time. This helps you identify errors and inconsistencies more effectively.

        2. Read aloud

        Reading the text aloud can help you catch awkward phrasing, repetition, and grammatical errors that may have slipped under the radar.

        3. Focus on the basics

        Begin by checking for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors. Pay attention to common pitfalls like misplaced modifiers, subject-verb agreement, and punctuation misuse.

        4. Ensure clarity and coherence

        Make sure the text flows smoothly and logically. Clarify ambiguous sentences, eliminate unnecessary repetition, and ensure that each paragraph transitions seamlessly to the next.

        5. Fact-check

        Verify the accuracy of names, dates, statistics, and other factual information. Cross-reference sources and citations to ensure credibility and reliability.

        6. Check consistency

        Maintain consistency in spelling, capitalization, abbreviations, and formatting throughout the text. Refer to style guides (such as APA Style, Chicago Manual of Style, or specific house styles) for guidance.

        7. Trim extra words

        Be ruthless when it comes to trimming unnecessary words, phrases, and paragraphs. Aim for clarity and conciseness without sacrificing the essence of the message.

        8. Respect the author’s voice

        While copyediting involves refining the text, it’s important to preserve the author’s unique voice and style. Avoid imposing your own writing preferences and respect the author’s creative choices.

        9. Use tools wisely

        Take advantage of technology to streamline the editing process. Language correctors, grammar checkers, and editing software can help identify errors and inconsistencies, but always use them as aids rather than replacements for human judgment.

        10. Seek feedback

        Don’t hesitate to seek feedback from peers, colleagues, or mentors. Fresh perspectives can uncover blind spots and improve the overall quality of the editing process.

        In today’s digital age, the role of AI in copyediting is also gaining prominence. AI content editing tools can assist copyeditors by identifying common errors, suggesting improvements, and streamlining the editing process. However, human expertise and intuition remain invaluable in maintaining the artistry and nuance of language!

        As experts in editing and proofreading services, PaperTrue can be your perfect partner in editing. Our team of expert editors will polish your text and make it ready for presentation!

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        Tanvi Linkedin

        With a foundation in Life Sciences, Tanvi enjoys curating technical writing tips tailored for ESL students. When she's not translating complex concepts into bite-sized nuggets, she can be found playing with dogs or painting landscapes.

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