What’s The Difference Between Editing and Copy Editing?

What’s the difference between editing and copy editing?

Judith Cassis

Judith Cassis

Both writers and their readers thrive when an author’s message is communicated clearly. After all, even a small punctuation error can significantly alter meaning.

Consider the differing meanings of the following two sentences:
You look simply marvelous!
You–look simply marvelous!

The first sentence expresses a complementary opinion. The second sentence commands the subject to look great; a risky proposition on paper—and in relationships. Software spelling and grammar checks are helpful, but not always accurate.

Never, ever,ever rely on SPELL CHECK for accuracy!

Another thing to remember is they can’t improve content flow or eliminate impact caused by correctly spelled words destined to escape an auto-correct feature’s notice. Most successful authors agree that good writing is largely dependent on good editing.

Not all types editing are the same. There are several levels and each is tailored to a specific purpose. Do you need an editor, a copy editor, or both? What’s the difference?

Most projects require all three. Here’s a description of each:


Editors help clarify material by making both form and content changes. Edits may involve modest changes such as rearranging paragraphs and rewriting transition sentences to help writing flow smoothly.
Sometimes editors make more significant changes. An editor might replace certain words to emphasize meaning, and even rewrite or eliminate entire sections of a book or article. Editors consider both the quality of writing and the author’s targeted audience when making changes. In some cases a more casual style is appropriate, whereas in other cases, a more formal style might be warranted.

Copy Editors

Copy editors don’t generally change the meaning of written content significantly. Their role is to enhance the clarity of writing for the reader by making sure punctuation and grammar are correct. Proofreading is emphasized, however, copy editors often play another important function.

Publishing outlets for books, magazines and newspapers have form and style requirements that must be met before publication. Copy editors ensure that those requirements are met to the benefit of both authors and publishers.

Editing helps ensure that an author’s message reaches readers as intended. Remember, never rely exclusively on editing your own material. We don’t always catch all of our errors because we’re too close to the material.

Are you an author? I highly recommend utilizing the services of a professional editor and/or a copy editor. Each can play a role in making an article, book or other written copy look simply marvelous.

Judith Cassis is a New York Times Bestselling ghostwriter and author. For information on book coaching, retreats and classes, email: judith@judithcassis.com or join on Facebook:

The following two tabs change content below.
Judith Cassis is a New York Times Best Selling ghostwriter and book coach. She has been leading writers workshops, retreats and events since 1999. Her company, Success Made Simple, provides guidance and resources for writers planning to publish books, blogs and articles.