What Is the Difference Between Copy-editing and Proofreading?

Which form of editing is right for you?

I am often asked what the difference is between copy-editing and proofreading. In short, the distinction is based on the degree of editing or how much intervention is made in a text. The following will clarify this.


Copy-editing differs from proofreading in the sense that, in addition to spelling and grammar, the stylistics of a text are also edited.

In the case of a copy-edit, for example, sentences are shortened to make them more accessible to the reader. In another case, the style may take on a more academic tone. Redundancies and word repetitions are also pointed out. Attention is moreover drawn to logical and argumentative inconsistencies. Any incomprehensibilities are thus clarified. The focus is on the reader’s understanding of the text; the content is not changed during the editing process.

Copy-editing is particularly important when different texts need to be standardised to suit a specific milieu or target group. Editing a text may therefore take more time than proofreading.


Proofreading focuses on correcting grammatical and spelling errors and those relating to punctuation. The style of a text is not changed. Proofreading is useful if you do not want to change the style of your texts but would like to have them checked for errors.


To summarise, the following can be said: proofreading involves checking a text for grammar and punctuation. Copy-editing additionally optimises a text in terms of sentence length and word usage.

Contact me if you have decided in favour of copy-editing or proofreading. I offer both for the English and German language. Please also contact me if you are still undecided as to which form of editing is right for you. I will advise you without obligation.