Copy Editing vs. Proofreading: What’s the Difference?
  • 6-minute read
  • 29th September 2023

Copy Editing vs. Proofreading: What’s the Difference?

As an e-commerce business, your website content matters. Good content not only drives traffic to your business’s site, but it moves leads through the sales pipeline. Copy editing and proofreading your content can help you save funds in the long run and grow your business

But what’s the difference between copy editing and proofreading, and where do they sit in the content marketing process? In this guide, we’ll define these two distinct services and show you why prioritizing them can help you create effective content that reflects your business’s brand voice and increases sales. Keep reading to learn all about copy editing vs. proofreading and how your business can start publishing high-quality content today.

What Is Copy Editing?

Copy editing for businesses means ensuring that all published content is clear, accurate, organized, and meets your established style guidelines. It is different from copywriting and content writing, as it focuses more on editing existing content rather than creating it from scratch. It’s also different from developmental editing, which usually involves major structural and organizational changes.

Copy editing goes beyond checking for surface-level issues, and some rewriting and refining of the content may be necessary. Some issues that copy editors check for are:

  • Abrupt shifts in tone or point of view
  • Inconsistent or incorrect brand voice application
  • Factual inaccuracies
  • Adherence to style guidelines
  • Unclear or confusing text
  • Logical flow of ideas
  • Awkward paragraph transitions

One of the main goals of copy editing is ensuring that content appeals to your target audience. For example, copy editors check that the language formality matches your brand voice and resonates with your customer base. They can also help eliminate monotonous or repetitive language and verify that certain vocabulary choices make sense in the context.

Check out our step-by-step guide to copyediting anything to improve your content output!

What Is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the last step in the content production process before publication. That means no major structural shifts, changes in tone of voice, or additions to content occur at this stage. Instead, proofreaders check for: 

  • Grammatical and/or punctuation errors
  • Misspellings or typos
  • Sentence structure issues, such as misplaced modifiers
  • Inconsistencies, such as with capitalization
  • Incorrect dialect usage
  • Accurate numbering and date formats

Proofreading business content is about more than just catching errors and inconsistencies. Skilled proofreaders can read text such as website content, email campaigns, and product descriptions with a keen eye for detail and suggest subtle but impactful improvements. 

For example, proofreaders can check for distracting formatting issues, such as unnecessary font changes. They can also flag other issues that could hurt your conversion rate, such as overuse of technical jargon, confusing acronyms, and factors affecting SEO optimization.

Copy Editing vs. Proofreading Business Content

While copy editing and proofreading can overlap somewhat, they are two distinct steps in the publication process with several key differences. 

Copy editing is a more comprehensive review of the content that ensures clarity, coherence, accuracy, and overall quality. It involves not only correcting errors but also improving the overall flow and organization of the material. This is especially important if you use AI technology to assist in your content marketing, as the content these tools produce needs thorough editing to improve the general tone and readability before publication. 

Proofreading is a final check to catch any remaining mistakes before the content is shared with clients, stakeholders, or the public. It’s especially significant for marketing materials where minor errors can stand out and negatively impact credibility.

Why You Need Both Copy Editing and Proofreading

For business writing, both copy editing and proofreading are essential to maintain a professional image and effectively convey your message – whether you’re selling a product or service. 

Your business’s website content is the first thing customers notice after landing on your page, so it needs to leave a lasting first impression and make an impact. Proofreading for business content targets things like surface-level grammar/spelling issues and minor formatting discrepancies. It prevents companies from publishing content that’s hard to read or riddled with unprofessional errors, which can lower confidence in your business. In a study done by Tidio, 97% of respondents report that grammar mistakes affect their perception of a company. 

Copy editing goes deeper into content enhancement and organization and ensures the content you put out flows well, reflects your company’s style guide, and is factually accurate. And if your business operates internationally, copy editing can ensure that your content is well-adapted to different cultural and linguistic contexts, expanding your global reach. 

Proofreading and copy editing ensure your content is clear and concise, which is crucial for grabbing and keeping the attention of potential customers.

Outsource Editing Services to Maximize Your Resources

Proofreading and copy editing are essential for successful businesses – but both require a significant investment of time and resources. Outsourcing editing tasks allows your in-house team to focus on core business activities that directly contribute to your company’s objectives. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency, as your team members can channel their energy into tasks that align with their expertise. 

Outsourcing editing also provides flexibility to scale up or down based on your editing needs. During periods of higher content production, you can easily increase the volume sent to the editing service without the hassle and cost of hiring and training new employees. You only pay for proofreading and editing services when your business needs them. 

Finally, professional editing services often have a dedicated freelance team based in a wide range of countries and time zones, which can lead to faster turnaround times. This is especially beneficial when you’re working with tight deadlines or need to respond quickly to market changes to gain a competitive advantage.

In Summary

To summarize, proofreading and copy editing are both crucial aspects of content production and shouldn’t be overlooked to save time or resources. Our team has experience proofreading and editing a wide range of business content, from landing pages to business reports, and can help ensure you’re consistently publishing first-rate, highly effective content. Take the first step and schedule a call today to discuss your business needs. 

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