How Does a Copyeditor Differ From an Editor?

Note: These are rough definitions.

A copyeditor (which I’m using as a synonym of proofreader) focuses mainly on the following:

✔ typos
✔ grammar
✔ punctuation
✔ consistency

What does “consistency” mean? Let’s say the writer prefers the Oxford comma. It’s then the editor’s job to make sure this comma is always used. Ditto for how many spaces to use between sentences (please, only one); spelling out numbers; which dash to use (en or em, never a hyphen); and the like.

By contrast, an editor focuses on everything. This includes:

✔ formatting
✔ factual mistakes
✔ cogency
✔ clarity
✔ tone
✔ flow

Again, these are general guidelines that I present to clients. Other editors likely use their own distinctions.

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