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 with vast differences between the two.
While people in publishing mostly know how the two are distinguished, many beginners are still unclear how copyediting and copywriting differ. I suppose the confusion makes sense since both terms have the preceding word “copy.”
Let’s look at some of the pointers.
Table of Contents
- 1. Copyediting vs. copywriting: Main difference
- 2. Going in-depth: What copyeditor and copywriter do
- 3. Skills required to be a good copyeditor and a good copywriter
- 4. Where can I learn copyediting and copywriting?
- 5. Can the copyeditor and copywriter be the same person?
- 6. Which one is easier?
1. Copyediting vs. copywriting: Main difference
The main differences between copyediting and copywriting are primarily the role and the function.
Copyediting is reviewing and checking publication styles, formatting and accuracy of publication. On the other hand, copywriting is the act of writing engaging content that appeals to the target audience.
While copywriting can be done by writers, it is highly recommended to have 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 as well 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 copies highly effective for advertising, marketing and promotion purpose.
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
Good copyeditors need to have certain skills. They must follow style guidelines and know which is the correct standard for each publication.
A good copyeditor also has great attention to detail; they need to make sure that everything in a document complies with editors’ requirements before publishing.
Similarly, copywriters also need to possess skills, which are not the same as copyeditors.
To be a good copywriter, you will need to write powerful texts that are persuasive and make the audience take action.
On top of all these skills, excellent copywriters need to show a high level of 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 certain 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, for example.
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 brain more often.
4. Where can I learn copyediting and copywriting?
Both copyediting and copywriting are learnable skills. You can learn these skills by doing, and there are numerous courses available online that you could take.
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 and so on.
Many platforms provide you with training and certifications in copyediting and copywriting. Some of them are even offered for free.
If you are keen to learn more, I would suggest you start with YouTube.
There are tons of tips, techniques and methods you can learn 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 takes 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 over and over, it will be easy for you to miss the easiest of mistakes, hence the “blind spot” term.
Therefore, it is advisable to have different people working on these two tasks.
Looking 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 own experience serving in both capacities, I would say that copywriting is the more difficult of the two.
Copywriting is producing and writing content. There is a lot of thought that 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 then re-write the content again 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 stakeholder.
Copyediting is more “mechanical.”
You can start copyediting right away 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 to 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 aimed at achieving the same goal: producing a high-quality publication.
I hope the article will shed some light on these differences between the two and guide you to the right path if you are keen to pursue or expand your knowledge in copyediting and copywriting.