What Is Copy Editing?

When it comes to writing, there’s a whole lot involved. Sure, curating the content takes the lion’s share of the work, but other subcategories of activities every written piece need before publishing or submission. Most of these subcategories are targeted towards editing. Editing is crucial for every caliber or writer as it ensures that the writer’s intent and the message embedded in the piece are conveyed without confusion.

Editing is of various types, but this piece highlights copy editing in a bid to understand what it entails.

First, What Is Copy Editing

Copy editing is the conscious practice of revising a written material to improve its quality in terms of readability, semantics, formatting, spelling, grammar, engagement, punctuation, terminology, etc. Copy editing helps identify and eliminate grammatical, structural, and factual errors in written material.

The goal of this practice, depending on the publication type and editing level, is to produce error-free written pieces while improving reader experience. Meaning a copy editor has to fine-tune the publication to maintain the reader’s attention while still ensuring the intended message is easily conveyed by reducing the reader’s cognitive load.

Everybody needs copy editing

What Does It Entail?

The copy editing practice encompasses distinct editing types; mechanical and substantive editing. While mechanical editing focuses on aligning a written piece with the stated editorial requirements and ensuring its consistency in grammar throughout the piece, substantive editing resonates more with ensuring internal harmony by editing the publication’s structure and organization.

In this practice, simple mechanical corrections are achieved through sentence-level interventions. Also, substantial remedial work goes into the piece, from adjusting the literary style to improving sentence clarity, remedying disorganized passages, and lots more.

Now, it’s a given that some may confuse copy editing with proofreading while others may think it’s the same thing. Although both editing practices have their similarities, they are very unique in their job requirements.

Also, in a written piece, copy editing ideally comes before proofreading. With copy editing, the editor fact checks the content, ensures the citations and references are correct and in the required style, reviews grammar and its usage, rewrites sentences to improve clarity and conciseness, and does it all in a word doc. This is opposed to a proofreader who receives the written piece in PDF format and ensures the spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and cross-referencing, is in accordance with the writer’s requirements.

Both editing tasks are very important to the credibility of the writer and the intent of his/her publication, which is why they’re highly recommended.

What Skills Are Required for Copy Editing?

Now, you may be wondering what skills one needs to possess to become a professional copy editor. These groups of professionals require a number of skills. As a matter of fact, their recruitment depends on their possession of and proficiency in these skills.

Firstly, a copy editor needs to be professionally proficient in the use of English or the required language of choice. This skill is usually insured with a Master’s degree in the language. Also, a professional copy editor needs to have a keen eye for detail as well as critical thinking skills, as this will help them highlight literary inconsistencies in the piece. Communication and interpersonal skills are a given as copy editors need to relate well with their clients. (Read Top 5 Skills Required for Copy Editing)


For different writers and clients, copy editing might mean different things. While some editors may be required to perform all the previously mentioned functions, some may be expected to fulfill only a few. It all depends on the type of content, the client, and the employer.

However, regardless of which level of professional intensity may be required, copy editing is a non-negotiable part of writing. It guarantees that the writer’s intent is portrayed and conveyed throughout the piece.

Also read All Types of Copy Editing.

Scientific Editing Blog

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By Bizhan Romani

Dr. Bizhan Romani has a PhD in medical virology. When it comes to writing an article about science and research, he is one of our best writers. He is also an expert in blogging about writing styles, proofreading methods, and literature.

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