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What is Copy Editing?

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

What is Copy Editing? Copy editing is another critical component when it comes to improving an author’s work. Every stage of the editing process is designed to elevate an author's manuscript and not to complicate it. When it comes to line editing, copy editing, and proofreading, the three can sometimes overlap even though they each serve an entirely different purpose from one another. While line editing focuses on content, style, and use of language, for instance, copyediting focuses on all of those in addition to checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Copy editing is typically done after a line edit.

The Process: Copy editing requires a great amount of detail and knowledge/skills. It is designed to make sure that your overall content/copy is free of errors and that all facts are checked. During a copy edit, I (your editor) will analyze your manuscript for sentence structure, diction, spelling, grammar, consistency, flow, fact-checking, and punctuation.

Here are a few things that copy editing focuses on:

Grammar Errors This is where your "you're vs. your," "I vs. We," "Its vs. It's" rules are checked and corrected. A grammar error is when the normative rules for constructing a sentence are not used correctly. An example is using you're when what you mean to use is your. See the examples below:

Incorrect: Sarah has ruined you're dress.

Correct: Sarah has ruined your dress.

The two sentences above might sound correct when said verbally, but on paper, they have completely different meanings. Sarah has ruined you're dress can also be written as Sarah has ruined you are dress. You're is a contraction or shortened form for you are. Your is a possessive pronoun. Make "your" the correct word to use and not "you're."

Spelling This one is straightforward. Your editor will help you clear your manuscript of all spelling errors.

Punctuation is used in writing to separate sentences and their elements to clarify their meaning. Commonly used punctuation marks are the period (.), comma (,), an exclamation mark (!), question mark (?), and semi-colon (;). I'm sure you've heard of the common phrase, Let's eat grandpa.

Let's eat grandpa.

Let's eat, grandpa.

The above sentence has the same words, but the use of a comma differentiates their meanings. One means we're having/eating/killing grandpa for dinner. The other is sparing grandpa's life and inviting him to the feast.

ConsistencyA copy edit will keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in your writing. Consistency in tone, descriptions, voice, pace, flow, etc. It is a copy edit that will comb through your draft and catch any remaining inconsistencies missed after a developmental and line edit.

Once a manuscript has been through the copy-editing stage, it is time for the design and proofreading stage. A proofreader will catch the errors that a copyeditor missed and is the last line of defense when it comes to making sure that the book you put out into the work is reflected in the best possible light.

Copy editing requires a great deal of attention to detail on both an author's part and the part of their editor. Because the amount of time invested in copy editing is less than what is invested in developmental editing and line editing, this type of editing tends to cost less than developmental editing and line editing.


Hi, my name is Amma, and I have spent over a decade guiding authors through the book editing process. My copy-editing feedback will leave your manuscript clear of all grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors. I will also guide you through the correct usage of commonly misspelled words (so you know when to use advice and not advice) and I will point out and fix grammar errors and leave you with handy feedback to guide you through your future work.

You'll receive, as part of your copy-editing feedback, a marked-up manuscript using track changes, with comments.

To submit your manuscript to me for a free sample edit, send about 4 pages that do not include the front matter and/or the first few chapters. Preferably, pick the sample from the middle of your story. Submissions must be sent in industry-standard format (with 1-inch margins, double-spaced, Times New Roman, or Courier font)

I am a skilled copy editor with several notable projects under my belt, and I'm here to help you make your story come alive!

Thank you for polishing my rough prose into its shining state, Amma."

— John Barnes, Author of 18: A Novel of Golf and Life.


Rates: Rates for copy editing and proofreading begin at $0.018 a word for books with 50,000 words or more. And $0.020 a word for books with less than 50,000 words. Contact me for a personalized rate and payment plan.

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