What is copy-editing – Copy-editing basics – Verity Roat Language Solutions

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that one of the services I offer is copy editing! But what is copy editing and how does it differ from proofreading? In this post, I will cover the basics of copy editing and explain how this service can help you.

Role of a copy editor

In terms of the absolute basics of copy editing, a copy editor’s role is similar to a proofreader. This is because it covers:

  • Checking grammar
  • Spelling mistakes
  • General readability
  • Punctuation

However, a copy editor goes beyond this by also examining:

  • The flow of the text and how easy the content of the text is to follow
  • Any formatting that needs to be included
  • The style of the text based on a style guide submitted by the client

The flow of the text

This essentially boils down to how readable a text is. So, it means making sure that the author’s meaning and intention is as clear as possible. Depending on the register of the text, this may involve swapping formal or more technical words for ones that are more generally understood, shortening sentences and even rearranging the content of a paragraph so it can be more easily understood. It could also include rewording phrases for the client or highlighting passages they may wish to revisit.


A copy editor’s role also includes formatting the text. Many publishing bodies have their own unique formatting style that authors may not have been aware of what they were writing the text. Formatting the text could include editing headers and footers, compiling a contents page, changing font and font sizes, etc.

Style of the text

Most publishing bodies have their own style guide. This usually includes advice on preferred spellings, the register of the text and referencing, among others. A copy editor basically has to make sure that the author’s work conforms to this style guide before the client can publish it.

So that’s the basics of copy editing! If you have any more questions about copy editing or need a copy editor, you can talk to me on verity.roat@cantab.net.

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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