Posted on Aug 17, 2011 in About the business
You may be wondering what the difference is between editing, copyediting and proofreading. The terms can be confusing because they are often used interchangeably. What do all these words mean exactly?
You’ve probably heard of video or film editing, where the editor cuts, pastes, chops and changes film or images to make them fit together in the best way possible, to give the audience the best possible viewing experience. Video editors sometimes have to cut footage to make it fit into a certain length of time, or swap it around to invoke a certain tone or meaning.
Editors do the same thing with words. We correct mistakes, change sentence structure and add or remove words to present the content to the reader in the best possible way. We can edit text to get the message across in the simplest way, the most creative way or the most attention grabbing way. We can make sure the writing has the right tone, is written in the correct tense and that the words flow in a way that is easy to absorb.
This can also be referred to as a structural editing or substantive editing, because it can affect the structure or substance of the entire text. It’s usually what people mean when they refer to ‘editing’.
Copyeditors and proofreaders traditionally have different functions. A copyeditor edits the text on a surface level, correcting mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation (but generally doesn’t look at tone, flow, tense or sentence structure). This can be done before or after structural editing. Traditionally, a copyeditor will mark up a document using proofreading marks (like a language system), then a typesetter will make the changes and produce a new copy of the document, called a proof. A proofreader compares the proof to the marked-up copy (dead copy) and ensures that all the changes have been made correctly. During this process, he or she may spot some other errors that were missed by the copyeditor.
Over time these roles have widened and overlapped, adapting to the changes in technology, the publishing industry and the business world. In today’s freelance environment, it’s likely that the entire editing job will be outsourced. Working on a computer, we can simply make the changes on the screen, encompassing the job of editor, copyeditor, typesetter and proofreader. This is what I do at www.editing.net.au, making the whole process quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
Any job can be catered to your specific needs. Just tell us what you want, how in-depth you want the editing to be and how quickly you need it done!
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