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Copy editing vs. proofreading

A recent enquiry by a student, who really needed to bring up the presentation quality and language standard of their university essay, highlighted the fundamental issue of how writers can sometimes confuse the differences between copy editing and proofreading. The student ideally wanted to perform a simple proofread of the paper, but was also aware of the fact that the presentation of the narrative in the essay itself was seriously lacking and required substantial changes.

An explanation was required that would highlight the important and crucial differences between copy editing and proofreading and how they are not interchangeable aspects of the editing process.

The following solution offers a more comprehensive discussion on the key differences between copy editing and proofreading and why it is always important to observe and identify those differences in order to achieve the ideal results for one's final draft. Whether one is dealing with a university essay or a business plan presentation; it is always vital to know when one needs to produce a refined and improved copy of an initial draft, and how proofreading is a more appropriate form of last-stage spot checks for the final draft of any document.

Solution Preview

Final documents, modified copies and drafts are very common yet somewhat misunderstood aspects of the editing stages in the world of professional writing. They are relevant to the most basic of high school essays and presentations, to some of the most challenging PhD proposals and drafts. From ideas being chalked down for a start-up business, to an actual business proposal for potential investors and banks. Even from the first draft of a book, to the substantially edited final copy that is released to the public.

These various stages of editing are not always entirely appreciated. Using a recent student enquiry, a brief summary can be provided of the two primary aspects of editing—copy editing and proofreading—and when and where they are appropriate and how they are not interchangeable.

A university student recently presented a rough draft for a social science essay that was to be presented in two parts. The first part was to be served in the form of a brief presentation, while the second part was to serve as the actual essay, which the presentation would be based upon. The student's paper had an interesting theme to tackle, but the lingual flow of the paper—due to English not being a very familiar language—was considerably lacking, with certain sections of the paper actually failing to make a coherent point due to language difficulties faced by the author that went beyond ...

Solution Summary

While the general importance of editing is widely understood, the appreciation of intricate processes, such as copy editing and proofreading, can be confused, or even overlooked. This solution entails a brief discussion of the importance of copy editing and proofreading as two distinct but supportive stages of the editing process that--when used in tandem--can substantially improve upon the quality of first draft documents.

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