The Self-Publishing Insider

Learn the different between content editing vs copy editing from the self-publishing experts at Publish Pros

Content Editing vs Copy Editing: What’s the Difference?

Editing is an important part of the writing process. Why? Everyone makes mistakes, and as an author, it’s nearly impossible to catch your own mistakes because you are too close to your own work. Hiring a professional editor means your work is sharp, clean, and easy to read and understand. In short, a good editor will ensure your writing resonates with your intended audience. But how do you decide between content editing vs copy editing?

While content editing and copy editing may seem synonymous, there are distinct differences between the two. Understanding the specific nuances can help you produce high-quality, compelling content that draws readers into your work.

First stop – copy editing

If different types of editing were stacked atop each other, copy editing would likely be considered as the first layer. When copy editors review a document or book manuscript, they’re looking at it at a technical level, searching for any issues that could affect the readability of the material, including:

  • Spelling errors
  • Punctuation
  • Capitalization
  • Word repetition
  • Sentence structure, i.e. syntax
  • Sentence/paragraph length

While copy editing may sound rather straightforward, like running your document through a spell checker, a hands-on copy editor can deftly navigate between different grammar rules and nuances in language to polish your content. Copy editors have sharp eyes for detail, and often must decide between what is grammatically correct versus what reads better to a specific audience.

Digging deeper – content editing

Once a copy editor has reviewed your work, you might think you’re ready to publish. Your work should be error-free and grammatically correct. However, good writers know that while this type of technical editing is important, content editing is also a key piece of the editing process.

Content editors – also known as developmental editors – look at content from a big-picture perspective. While copy editors focus on small details, content editors dig deeply to make sure your work flows well, the structure makes sense, and the content is cohesive. Content editors keep their fingers on the pulse of the message, while also ensuring the content is well-written. Content editors will help determine whether the theme or plot is organized and well-developed; whether the dialogue and pacing works well to keep the story moving along; whether the characters seem genuine or relatable; as well as whether there are any major gaps, inconsistencies or factual errors that could confuse the reader. Content editing is more subjective than copy editing, so content editors may either work directly with the author to suggest re-writes or significant changes to add, move or delete content to improve flow and readability.

Content editing vs copy editing: Which do I need?

To produce a great book that your readers will love, the answer is likely both. While many people – authors included – believe one editor can do it all, copy editing and content editing rely on different skill sets and experience to ensure your book is fine-tuned to perfection. Luckily, our experienced team at Publish Pros offers many different levels of editing – from copy editing to content editing and proofreading and beyond – to ensure your book is of the highest quality and caliber for your readers. Visit us today to learn more!