What does a proofreader do?

A proofreader examines a text to ensure accuracy, checking in particular for grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes and suggesting changes in vocabulary.
If the text that needs proofreading is a translation, particular attention is given to translation mistakes.
Proofreading is the process of examining the final draft of a document or text — after it has been edited — to ensure there are absolutely no errors. A proofreader will review for spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos or incorrect use of language.
For certain proofreading it is recommended that you hire an experienced freelancer who has the ability to find the smallest grammatical errors.
Today, the term “proofreading” is generally used to mean the final checking of any textual information. There are two levels of proofreading:

  • Basic proofreading. In basic proofreading, proofreaders perform word-for-word checks of a draft of text and detect errors for correction. Basic proofreaders also check for typographical errors, repetition of words, and correct styles.
  • Editorial proofreading. In editorial proofreading, proofreaders also check for errors in word usage (for instance, the use of to instead of too), hyphenation, and subject-verb agreement. If asked, editorial proofreaders can look for grammar problems (using which instead of that). They can also recommend changes in word choice or inappropriate punctuation. Editorial proofreading is usually done on material that has already been edited or reformatted.


What does a copyeditor do?

The copyeditor goes one step further than the proofreader by keeping an eye not only on basic language mistakes, but also on content. For example company names, numbers, references, email addresses, phone numbers, or job titles are double-checked in the copyediting process. Furthermore, the copyeditor examines coherence, sentence structure, use of country-specific idioms, different jargons, registers and styles.
To “copyedit” a document means to proofread it with an additional element of making sure the style is consistent with other content from the company or publication. Copyeditors review finished copies for spelling, grammar, consistency, and format. In many ways, being a copy editor is like taking a language exam that never ends: one’s knowledge of spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, and syntax is continuously being tested.
When looking for a freelance copyeditor, make sure they have the necessary talents of a proofreader, as well as the additional expertise when it comes to different styles of writing. One of their measures includes making sure names and dates are always written in the same way. A copyeditor should have knowledge of different styles or be specialized in a particular field. At all levels of copyediting, copy editors correct errors, point out conflicting statements to the author, and request advice when the manner of resolving a problem is unclear. Throughout all this, copy editors fix whatever is incorrect, confusing, ambiguous, or inappropriate. Therefore, a great copyeditor may cost more than a proofreader.