Difference between Proofreading and Copyediting

Every academic document ever generated has one thing in common – they all are proofread. Copyediting is another aspect of academic paper revision which involves critical analysis of the literature. Every student has come across an academic paper once in their lives, if not written one themselves. Irrefutably, it is a difficult task as it involves a complex mix of systematic working and strict adherence to set rules and guidelines. The addition of well-defined sections such as acknowledgements, introduction, literature reviews, methodologies, and many more, not excluding the references section, increases the complexity. All this might seem overwhelming to the unengaged. In such a scenario, it is highly likely that linguistic mistakes and grammatical errors might creep into the paper.

In comes proofreading and copyediting to the rescue.

However, there are some major differences between the two.

Research papers are highly professional documents and aim to attain the highest quality in terms of linguistic accuracy. The document generated should convey the same idea with no room for ambiguity. As a result, it becomes imperative that research papers will have to be thoroughly evaluated before representing their ideas. Tools explicitly employed to evaluate a research paper are proofreading and copyediting.


These tools are used to improve the author’s writing proficiency and efficacy. Reducing errors and polishing the document before the final submission is the primary goal for these tools. However, they might seem similar, but both of them are significantly different from each other. Proofreading is usually the final critical check of the document with the primary focus on any typographical errors and punctuation mistakes. It is not ideally concerned with the language flow of the document.

On the other hand, copyediting is the segment of evaluation that is centred on the identification of the flow of ideas of the paper. It evaluates the meaning of the document, its accuracy in conveying the right message, and identifying inconsistencies. However, in the older times, copywriting was more similar to proofreading than it is today.

How to Perform?

Successfully evaluating a paper requires considerable mastery over the use of these tools. In the past, proofreading was performed by linguistic experts who were well-versed with the academic guidelines and requirements. However, the times have changed since then. Nowadays, excellent automatic proofreading tools are available online that would evaluate your paper and suggest viable changes in a heartbeat. However, the system is yet to understand human requirements fully. There are instances when these algorithms will fail to rectify all the mistakes or will not achieve the right citation style expected by your paper evaluators. In such a case, it is best to look for external help. It is the duty of the copyeditor to ensure a smooth language structure and composition. Most college students will fail to achieve this mark due to a lack of experience. On the other hand, proofreading is slightly easier to perform as it majorly requires the author to read and identify any errors.

After eliciting the basic differences between proofreading and copyediting, it is necessary for the author to decide their competency level. As stated earlier, proofreading is comparatively simpler and requires minimum academic grasp. However, copyediting is a whole another ball game. It is recommended for young budding academicians to employ an external copyeditor to thoroughly evaluate their paper before submitting it to their final judges. We offer comprehensive proofreading by our highly skilled academic experts. Refer to our page for more information and guidance.