The Difference Between Copyediting and Line Editing

Most researchers do not fully comprehend the main difference between line editing and copyediting. Although there are some similarities between these two services (e.g., both take full note of the use of a manuscript’s language and involve improvements of the content, overall structure, and quality of the manuscript), there are still important differences between them.


The Difference Between Copyediting and Line Editing

This blog discusses the difference between copy-editing and line editing. To give you an opportunity to practice proofreading, we have left a few spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors in the text. See if you can spot them! If you spot the errors correctly, you will be entitled to a 10% discount.

Most researchers and students do not fully comprehend the main difference between line editing and copyediting services. Although there are some similarities between these two services (e.g., both take full note of the use of a manuscript’s language and involve improvements of the content, overall structure, and quality of the manuscript), there are still some important differences between these services. Both line editing and copyediting have entirely different processes and require a different set of skills during the writing process.

Line Editing vs. Copyediting

Line editing mainly focuses on writing style, creative content, and language use at the sentence and paragraph levels. That is, it focuses on the language used by the author to establish communication between the storyteller and the reader instead of combing through the paper for errors.

Line editing checks the following points:

  • Is the language of the manuscript clear, smooth, and readable to the readers?

  • Is the meaning of the words correct?

Working with a line editor would improve the quality of a manuscript and give the author the creative instruments to become a better writer for potential employment.  Copyediting, on the other hand, focuses on errors from a technical standpoint to ensure the manuscript follows the business standards. They consider this type of work as high-level proofreading or editing.

In this sense, copyediting corrects all errors in grammar, typography, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. It ensures consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization, tracking macro issues, such as internal consistency. A manuscript should have internal consistency in terms of meaning. The setting, plot, or characters of the study should have no discrepancies throughout the paper.

For instance, if in Section 2, you write: the participants of the study from a rural area in South Africa, and then write in Section 4: the participants of the study from the urban area in South Africa, it is the copy editor’s job to correct this if both renditions are meant to refer to one and the same thing.

Overlap Between Copyediting and Editing

Of course, there will be some convergence between editing and copyediting. As mentioned before, the main purpose of editing is to address technical errors or logical inconsistencies because the main role of an editor is to polish up your manuscript. However, it is not the specific aim of line editing to screen the manuscript, correct the errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling, or change behaviour to behavior just because the targeted journal is for the United States. This is a copyediting task and requires technical comprehension skills of English usage (either British variant or American variant) that general editing does not possess. In this sense, copyediting involves checking the citation style—a set of rules on how to properly cite a source in an academic manuscript. Hence, editing services may not offer to check the APA style or Harvard style, but copyediting might.

copy editing vs line editing

Which Comes First: Copyediting or Line Editing?

The other main difference between copyediting and line editing is that copyediting should always be done after line editing, never at the same time. So, copyediting is the last task before the manuscript goes into publication. A regular editor or line editor should check errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript before copyediting.

As a consequence, the main role of editing or proofreading services is to make your paper stand out and help you to produce writing of increasingly better quality while the main role of copyediting is to correct all grammatical, spelling, or punctuation flaws to make sure the document is error-free.

Authors should keep in mind that companies providing editing, proofreading, copyediting, or line editing services cannot ever guarantee a client’s manuscript will be accepted for publication because peer-review journals do not only look at these types of errors but also at the scientific or literary quality of the content—a matter for which a copy editor or a line editor cannot be held responsible.

Editing vs. Proofreading

The purpose of proofreading is to correct all errors in grammar, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. When authors wish to see whether the final version of their manuscript includes any minor errors, what they need is a proofreading service, not an editing service. However, editing services require more effort from an editor than do proofreading services. An editing service improves the academic quality of the paper. Thus, editing comprises improvements of the content and overall structure of the manuscript.  

Editing services make essential revisions to improve the standard of the academic writing of a document. In this sense, an editor sometimes re-writes some parts of the paper. This is important because the purpose of editing is to ensure that the manuscript’s purpose is met.

Editing also covers checking documents to see whether they have any grammatical, spelling, or punctuation errors to ensure the paper is error-free. Thus, an editor will correct all errors in grammar, typography, punctuation, syntax, and spelling in a manuscript. In this sense, editing services cover proofreading services as well (click here to read about the difference between editing and proofreading).

Need Support for Copyediting or Line Editing?

If you need professional help for editing, proofreading, line editing, or copyediting, please visit our service page. Best Edit & Proof expert editors aim to provide your manuscripts with proper scholarly and academic tone and style. They will significantly improve the chances of having your research manuscript accepted for publishing. They provide subject-area proofreading and editing services in several fields categorized under various disciplines. With our extensive knowledge and expertise, we will help you find the right tone and style for your manuscript.

If you need our subject-area editors to format your manuscripts, giving you the fundamental rules for formatting your manuscripts as described in your guidelines, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago/Turabian styles, then contact us. At Best Edit & Proof, our proofreaders and editors edit every type of academic paper. We have a user-friendly website, and a simplified the ordering process. 

If you would like our subject-area editors and language experts to work on your project for the improvement of its academic tone and style, then please visit the order page. It is easy! It takes only a few minutes to submit your paper and complete the process. Click here to see how it works.

We have flat-rate pricing based on our type of service (editing or proofreading), word count, and turnaround time. Enter your word count or copy and paste your document into our pricing calculator to get an instant copy editing and line editing support

If you need support for editing and proofreading services, contact us. You can also e-mail us or use the 24/7 live chat module to get direct support. We have a 24/7 active live chat mode to offer you direct support along with qualified editors to refine and furbish your manuscript. Alternatively, you can text us through our WhatsApp business line.

Stay tuned for updated information about editing and proofreading services!

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