When I tell someone I provide copyediting services, it’s often met with a puzzled look. “My cousin’s a copywriter,” might be a typical response I receive. Many are familiar with the role of a copywriter, and many have a decent understanding of what an editor does. But what is the role of a copyeditor? What do copyediting services include?

Copyeditors primarily review content for correct use of grammar, syntax, sentence structure, usage, and ease of understanding for readers. For content that could cause readers to have to mentally back-track to understand (which happens in everyone's writing!), copyeditors ask for clarification or provide suggested revisions for the author.

Copyeditors are not proofreaders. Copyediting can involve rewriting or offering rewritten content suggestions, as well as fact-checking, contacting sources for additional information, and so forth.

A copyeditor's goal should be to preserve the voice and intended meaning of the author and include only necessary additions or suggestions. Copyeditors may pair-down text (delete or reword content to tighten meaning) when asked to help reach a specified word count. For book copyediting, copyeditors also review electronic documents for formatting and placement correctness.

Editors (as opposed to copyeditors) may complete the same review functions as a copyeditor, but also help with content creation (ghost-writing or adding in additional content or clarification when needed), editing for style or assisting writers with developing ideas, as well as provide additional direction for the author if the content isn't hitting the mark.

Still curious? For additional resources on specific roles (and the rates that go with them) check out the following: