What is the difference between copyediting & proofreading?

Copyediting is like spring cleaning for your book. Every word gets dusted and buffed and put in its proper place. You have the time and energy to consider what to keep, what to replace, and what to throw out altogether. Proofreading is more like a quick tidying session right before guests show up at your house. Are you going to sort through that bin of old sports equipment in the basement when the doorbell is going to ring at any moment? Probably not. But you will likely wipe up the wine that was spilled in the hallway and throw the shirt that is draped over the stair banister into the laundry basket. (What were you doing right before your guests arrived?) 


Proofreading is for books that have already been professionally edited and is intended to catch the stray missing words or mixed up homonyms or mistakes that were missed in copyediting or crept in after copyediting was completed. 

If you are publishing a print book, you may want to schedule your proofreading round after the print layout is completed, which will allow your proofreader to check things like formatting consistency, running heads (the author or title at the top of the page), page numbers, and orphans and widows (single lines stranded at the top or bottom of a page).

Learn more about the Blue Garret’s editing principles.