Content Editor VS Copy Editor – What Is the Difference?
Many people use the terms “copy editor” and “content editor” interchangeably – but even though both terms are related, they are distinctly different from each other.
Did you know that it’s hard to catch your own typos? Even the best writers in the world slip here.
The reason typos get through isn’t that we’re stupid or careless. When we’re writing, we’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high-level task, which means we become blind to details.
An author should never proofread their own work because they know the meaning they want to convey, so it’s easier for them to miss when parts (or all) of it are absent.
Let’s look into the difference between “copy editing” and “content editing” in more detail:
What is copy editing?
Copy editing is the process of reviewing written content for accuracy, clarity, and consistency.
This includes correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes, as well as ensuring that the writing style and tone are consistent throughout the document.
Copy editors may also make suggestions for improving the flow of the text or suggest changes to improve its readability.
Because this is a part of their job, it’s usually recommended that a copy editor is proficient in the language your work is written in, so that they can catch any sentences that might not sound completely natural to a native speaker.
That means that if you’re writing in English, you might want to look into the best copy editors in the UK, if you’re writing in French, look for the top ones in France, and so on.
That said, copy editing usually doesn’t include any sweeping changes. It’s more about polishing the text and making sure it’s ready for publication.
Below are some areas of expertise for a copy editor:
Grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Copy editors are responsible for correcting grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. This is probably the most important part of their job.
As someone who’s writing a document, it’s important to remember that even a single mistake can take the reader out of the story you’re trying to tell.
Copy editors can help to avoid that by catching and correcting any errors before they have a chance to cause problems.
Making grammatical errors is practically unavoidable, especially when writing longer pieces – everyone does it from time to time. But it can also make your work look less professional, so it’s always a good idea to have someone take a look at your work before you publish it.
Copy editors are also responsible for ensuring that the writing style and tone are consistent throughout the document.
This means making sure that all the headings, subheadings, and text are all formatted in the same way, that the same words are always spelled the same way, and that the tone of the writing is appropriate for the target audience.
This is especially important when you’re dealing with multiple writers or contributors. Having a copy editor go over everything before it’s published can help to ensure that the overall tone and feel of the document are consistent, from start to finish, regardless of how many people contributed to the document.
What is content editing?
Content editing is the process of reviewing and editing the overall structure and organization of a document, as well as its content.
This includes making sure that all the information presented is factual and relevant, that headings and subheadings are in the correct order, and that the tone and style of the writing are appropriate for the target audience.
Content editors may also suggest changes to the wording of certain passages in order to make them more concise or appeal to a particular readership.
Because a lot of what a content editor does is more related to the internal logical structure of your work, finding someone that’s native to the language you’re writing in isn’t as important.
As long as they’re proficient in the language, they can work from anywhere – provided that they’re good at what they do, of course.
Unlike copy editing, content editing can involve making significant changes to the text. This might include moving entire paragraphs around, deleting or adding whole sections, or rewriting entire sentences.
Below are some areas of expertise for a content editor:
Arguments and claims
Content editors are responsible for checking the accuracy of any arguments or claims made in the text.
This includes making sure that all the information is sourced and that all the statistics are correct. It’s important to be as truthful and accurate as possible when writing about a topic, especially if you’re making any kind of argument or claim.
They are also responsible for catching any contradicting, incomplete, or unclear arguments you may present in your work.
While formating is outside their job description, they do make suggestions on what the headlines and subheadings should be and also if the text needs to be rewritten for better understanding by the audience. This helps journalists, essayists, novelists, among others who write for a living.
Content editors are responsible for ensuring that the internal structure of your document is logical and easy to follow. This includes making sure that all the paragraphs are in the correct order, the sections are properly divided, and that there is a clear logical flow to the argument or story you’re trying to tell.
This can be especially important when you’re dealing with a large document. If you’re writing a novel, they will ensure that your chapters are in the correct order and that all the scenes are properly sequenced. If you’re writing an essay, they will help to ensure that your arguments are well-organized and easy to follow.
When do you need copy editing VS content editing?
Copy editing is related to the technical side of writing, while content editing – as the name suggests, is more concerned with what you’re writing about.
As a general rule, a copy editor is usually sought out once you have your first or second draft so that you can make the necessary changes to make your writing more accurate, concise, and consistent.
A copy editor is usually brought in at the later stages of the editing process, after all the main changes have been made, to help polish and refine the content so that it is ready for publication.
While the changes suggested by the content editor are up to the author of the text to either accept or reject, it is generally a good idea to accept all changes made by the copy editor, as they are more familiar with the technical aspects of writing and can help to make your text look and read better.