Copyediting vs Proofreading – What Gives?

For new writers, the editing process as a whole can feel quite overwhelming. Oftentimes there is also added confusion between the processes of copyediting and proofreading. While many people use both concepts interchangeably, each are actually a vastly different series of actions that uniquely benefit your publication. But together, they collaborate as a particularly important two-stage process that is essential for a professionally composed finished product.

Copyediting is the final step on your “copy” before the typesetting process begins. 

Proofreading is the first step on your “proof” after typesetting has completed.


During comprehensive editing, your publication’s Managing Editor will review and make changes to your content. Then comes the job of the copyeditor: your uniquely skilled publication ally. Diverse in expertise from your general editor, the copyeditor is meticulous, attentive, and adept in grammar and word usage. He or she also remains current with book publishing’s most up-to-date standards and practices.

During copyediting, the copyeditor reviews your “copy” (the raw material of your written document) and corrects mistakes and repetition within. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Grammar, syntax, and punctuation rules
  • Technical consistency in spelling, capitalization, font usage, numerals, hyphenation
  • Elemental fact checking (correct names, dates, etc.)
  • Character description, plot points, and setting 
  • Continuity errors
  • Story elements for consistency, cohesion, and completeness
  • Usage and style – typically based on a specific style guide, like the Chicago Manual of Style or APA Style ( and
  • Potential legal liabilities

Once these steps are finalized, your manuscript is ready to send off to the production editor and author(s) for review, then off to typesetting.


As a quality assurance necessity, most traditional publishers require professional proofreading as a mandatory step before printing may begin. The proofreader is not a copyeditor; instead, he or she reviews typeset pages for style and page makeup. With a word for word read, they will check for typos, punctuation errors and inconsistencies that may have been previously missed in copyediting. 

What Makes Xcel the Trustworthy Choice When It Comes to Expert Copyediting and Proofreading?

Over 45 years of dependable experience!

At Xcel, every publication we typeset undergoes a Production Read. Our proofreader will cross check for quality before your book proofs are returned to you. We compare the original edited copy to the preliminary proof, ensuring there are no omissions or missing pages. Our proofreader corrects awkward word or page breaks and confirms that the book is completed to client-approved specs.

We also offer the option of a thorough Professional Read. During this step, our proofreader will review your document word for word. Instead of making modifications for you, we will track all recommended changes and submit back to you for approval before revisions are made.

Remember, it’s your copy that undergoes copyediting, and it’s your proof that undergoes proofreading. This harmonious synergy is what separates an acceptable amateur result from a polished professional publication that you can be proud of. In the end, missed mistakes on a final product can be costly, distract readers from your message, and risk tarnishing your reputation as a professional writer. 

If you’re in a time crunch and are considering skipping these steps, please don’t! Instead, reach out to us at Xcel. We can help! 

Leave a Reply