Copy Editing and Why You Need It

Copy editing may seem daunting, but it makes a huge difference

A young woman with brown hair is sitting at a desk copy editing some papers.
Scribendi.com's editors explain everything you
need to know about copy editing.

Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re a writer who may be writing a thesis, novel, or essay, but are unfamiliar with what professional editing services can offer. If you’re having trouble getting published or have doubts about the quality of your writing or your personal proofreading abilities, what you need is copy editing.

A copy editor has the expertise needed to find and correct errors in spelling, grammar, continuity, flow, and punctuation, and will provide these skills for a fee, helping you to assess and improve your writing.

Here’s how copy editing works

Write your text

Don’t worry about fixing every little mistake at first. Most writers work in stream-of-consciousness until they have all of their thoughts down on paper.

Revise your work

Now that you have all of your thoughts written down, you need to go back and revise them. Remove the unnecessary or redundant elements. Check your facts, and fix any mistakes in continuity, flow, or grammar. Carefully proofread and update your work as you do this. Here are some questions you should ask yourself while revising:

  • Is the main idea conveyed concisely?
  • What words, sentences, or sections of the writing are extraneous?
  • Will your introduction make people want to continue reading?
  • Is the progression of the text organized? Does it flow well?
  • Are the tone and style consistent?
  • Is the final thought strong?

Find a copy editing service

It’s nearly impossible for authors to catch every mistake in their own work, or find everything that could be improved. We all get attached to our writing, and our minds will even overlook what we have written and read what we think we wrote. Therefore, it’s necessary to find a second pair of eyes (preferably attached to a professional editor) to do the copy editing and pick out what you missed.

Help the editor

The editor will try to figure out what exactly you need done to improve your writing. Before they begin copy editing, they will want you to tell them:

  • Who will be reading the text?
  • What is its purpose or intended effect?
  • How long is the text?
  • Do you have a deadline?
  • Will there be additional material added later?
  • What have you budgeted for copy editing?
  • Are there any additional details the editor should know about your work to give you what you want?

Let them edit

The copy editor will read through your text line-by-line, much slower than the average reader, while copy editing. They will ask themselves these questions:

  • Is everything spelled correctly?
  • Are there grammar mistakes?
  • Is each sentence, paragraph, and point clear?
  • Can the writing be improved by dropping unnecessary words, sentences, or whole sections? How can it be written more concisely?
  • Does the text’s content and tone suit the author’s audience? Can it be improved without compromising their writing style?
  • Is there anything else that can be done?

There are different copy editing services available, ranging in price, depending on the type and extent of work required.

Review the edits

Before you move on from the copy editing stage, you must approve all the edits that have been made. We will send you both the draft of your work revised by a copy editor and a document tracking the changes that have been made. Check to make sure that your facts are still accurate, that no new errors have slipped in during the editing process, and that the changes have not damaged your intended meaning.

The copy editing process can take several drafts, so let our editors help. See the difference copy editing can make in your document.

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