6 Main Differences between Copyediting and Copywriting

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This article discusses six main differences between copyediting and copywriting.

Copyediting and copywriting are two crucial components of the publishing process. The two may have a slight similarity in their sound, but they have vast differences.

While people in publishing mostly know how the two are distinguished, many beginners are still unclear about how copyediting and copywriting differ. The confusion makes sense since both terms have the preceding word “copy.”

Let’s look at some of the pointers.

Main differences between copyediting and copywriting

1. Copyediting vs. copywriting: The main difference

The main differences between copyediting and copywriting are primarily the role and the function.

Copyediting reviews and checks publication styles, formatting, sentence structure, and accuracy. Copywriting, on the other hand, is the act of writing engaging content that appeals to the target audience.

While writers can do copywriting, it is highly recommended that a professional do this task since it requires specific skills and knowledge of writing techniques different from other types of writing, such as news or fiction.

[I have also explained the differences between editing and copyediting if you are interested.]

2. Going in-depth: What copyeditor and copywriter do

A copyeditor looks at the style and formatting and ascertains that the publication will comply with the stipulated standard and style.

A copyeditor will do their job based on pre-determined requirements. They also routinely have guidelines as a reference.

Some key elements in copyediting include the following: English style (American vs. British English), headline style, paragraph, pagination, and citation format.

On another note, a copyeditor works to produce compelling and engaging content. Good copywriting will produce persuasive copy that is highly effective for advertising, marketing, and promotion purposes.

Good copywriting also influences audiences’ behavior and persuades them to take action, such as signing up for a subscription or making product purchases. When writing copywriting materials, a copywriter will think of the audience in mind and capture their interest.

3. Skills required to be a good copyeditor and a good copywriter

Main differences between copyediting and copywriting

Good copyeditors need to have specific skills. They must follow style guidelines and know the correct standard for each publication.

A good copyeditor also has excellent attention to detail; they must ensure that everything in a document complies with the editors’ requirements before publishing.

Similarly, copywriters also need to possess skills that are not the same as copyeditors.

To be a good copywriter, you will need to write persuasive, influential texts that make the audience take action.

On top of all these skills, excellent copywriters must show high creativity in their work. They must be able to create unique ideas based on what is needed for specific projects or clients.

They must look at things from different perspectives and think of different ways of getting the audience’s attention.

Besides the skills mentioned above, copywriters need to showcase good research competency. Technical knowledge about specific products will help, but you need to know how to find information if you do not know everything.

For instance, if you are copywriting an ad promotion for the latest 13-inch Macbook, you will need to know its specifications and how these specifications can help users be more productive and produce compelling design works.

On the other hand, copyeditors do not necessarily require this skill since they work mainly with checking already written based on the formats and guidelines.

You could say that copyeditors use the right side of the brain more, while copywriters use the left side more often.

4. Where can I learn copyediting and copywriting?

Main differences between copyediting and copywriting

Both copyediting and copywriting are learnable skills. You can learn these skills by doing, and you can take numerous online courses.

I took copyediting training with my organization (a scholarly publisher). But training can only do you as much. You will need to put the training into practice to make you a better copyeditor.

My copywriting role came quite naturally. As friends and superiors took notice of my writing, I began to take small copywriting jobs. Today, I do both copyediting and copywriting substantially.

To improve my copywriting skills, I enrolled myself in a few courses offered by Domestika.

Domestika is a platform specializing in creative-centered training and courses. For a small fee, you can learn about copywriting, design, crafts, advertising, etc.

Many platforms provide you with training and certifications in copyediting and copywriting. Some of them are even offered for free.

If you want to learn more, I suggest you start with YouTube.

You can learn many tips, techniques, and methods freely with YouTube. When you get better, consider enrolling in professional courses to add to your professional credentials.

5. Can the copyeditor and copywriter be the same person?

The consensus is that the same person can carry out copywriting and copyediting tasks of the same copy (or content).

But is it advisable?

My personal opinion would be no.

Different people should do copyediting and copywriting to produce squeaky-clean content. If you do the copywriting, let someone else take over the copyediting. It will do the document much good.

Once both are complete, the content is good to publish.

In publishing, we have this phenomenon called the “blind spot syndrome.” If you are working on a document repeatedly, it will be easy to miss the easiest of mistakes, hence the “blind spot” term.

Therefore, having different people working on these two tasks is advisable.

From a more general perspective, we have different people undertaking different tasks in the publishing workflow: editing, copyediting, typesetting (formatting), and proofreading. Some publishers also add quality control into the mix.

Producing a quality publication takes a team. Each of the tasks functions differently and works on different targets.

6. Which one is easier?

You might wonder, which one is easier? Copyediting or copywriting?

Based on my experience serving in both capacities, I would say that copywriting is more complicated.

Copywriting is producing and writing content. A lot of thought needs to go behind in writing a copy. Sometimes, you get stuck for days without writing anything.

Also, copywriting involves numerous reviews and re-writing.

You write, read, and re-write the content to ensure that the copy hits the right audience with the right message.

Evaluating a copywriting product is also very subjective. Sometimes, your boss or client may reject your copy because “they don’t feel good about the content.” Hence, copywriting requires a lot of patience and ongoing negotiation with the stakeholders.

Copyediting is more “mechanical.”

You can start copyediting immediately as soon as you understand the specs or once you are given the guidelines to work. There is no “writer’s block” involved in copyediting tasks.


The main differences between copyediting and copywriting are in roles and objectives. Copyediting concerns the accuracy and compliance with publication standards, while copywriting focuses on producing engaging content.

Do take note that one is not more important than another. It’s not a competition. The two are just different tasks to achieve the same goal: producing a high-quality publication.

I hope the article will shed some light on these differences and guide you to the right path to pursue or expand your knowledge in copyediting and copywriting.

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