Line Editing vs. Copy Editing
  • 4-minute read
  • 22nd October 2023

Line Editing vs. Copy Editing

In professional writing and publishing, “line editing” and “copy editing” are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct stages of the editing process. Both are crucial for refining content, be it a manuscript, blog post, or any other written material. If you believe line editing and copy editing are the same, we’ve got the post for you!

In this post, we’ll:

●  Provide definitions of line editing and copy editing.

●  Highlight the key differences between line editing and copy editing.

●  Show you when and why each type of editing is necessary.

What Is Line Editing?

Often referred to as stylistic editing, line editing is the first step in the editing process. It primarily focuses on improving the overall quality and flow of the written content. A line editor looks at the finer details of language, including sentence structure, word choice, clarity, and coherence.

Here are the key aspects of line editing:

1. Language Enhancement

Line editing aims to make your writing more engaging and readable. Editors in this phase will polish your prose, replace dull or repetitive words with more vivid alternatives, and ensure sentences are well-structured for maximum impact.

2. Consistency

Editors pay attention to consistency in style, tone, and formatting. They ensure that your content adheres to a particular style guide or follows a predetermined set of rules.

3. Clarity and Coherence

Line editors also work on improving the clarity and coherence of your text. They ensure that your ideas flow logically and that readers can easily follow your argument or narrative.

4. Removing Jargon and Redundancy

Line editors eliminate jargon, redundancies, and unnecessary words or phrases that might confuse or bore readers.

What Is Copy Editing?

Copy editing, on the other hand, is the second stage of editing. It focuses on the finer details of text and aims to ensure correctness, accuracy, and consistency in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style.

Key aspects of copy editing include:

1. Grammar and Spelling

Copy editors meticulously review text for grammatical, spelling, and typographical issues. They ensure that your writing adheres to the rules of the language.

2. Punctuation and Syntax

Correct usage of punctuation marks and sentence structure is paramount in copy editing. You might think that grammar includes punctuation, but this is false – reviewing grammar doesn’t necessarily mean checking for correct punctuation as well. Editors also focus on syntax in writing, ensuring the text reads smoothly and is free from awkward or confusing sentences.

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

3. Style Consistency

Copy editors maintain consistency in style throughout the document. They confirm that the text aligns with a specific style guide, such as APA, Chicago, or AP.

4. Fact-Checking

In some cases, copy editors perform fact-checking to ensure the accuracy of the information presented in the content.

Key Differences Between Line Editing and Copy Editing

1. Focus

Line editing focuses on improving the quality of writing, style, and overall readability, while copy editing focuses on correctness, grammar, punctuation, and adherence to style guides.

2. When to Use Them

Line editing is typically carried out before copy editing and is recommended when you want to enhance the overall impact of your content. As previously mentioned, copy editing comes after line editing and is essential for polishing the text for publication. This sequence ensures that the content is refined for style before addressing grammar and correctness.

3. Skills Required

Line editors should possess strong writing and storytelling skills, while copy editors need a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of grammar and style rules.


Here’s a summary of what we’ve learned:

●  Line editing comes before copy editing.

●  Line editors focus on improving the style and overall writing impact.

●  Copy editors ensure correctness and adherence to established language rules.

●  Copy editors need a keen eye for detail, while line editors need robust writing skills.

●  Line editing and copy editing are vital for producing high-quality written content.

Editing Services From Proofed

If you’d like your work line edited or copy edited, Proofed has the perfect editing professional for you! Learn more about our editing services or submit a free 500-word sample to try us out. Make sure to request the service you’re looking for, be it line editing, copy editing, or developmental editing, in the notes section.

Comments (0)

Get help from a language expert.

Try our proofreading services for free.

More Writing Tips?
Trusted by thousands of leading institutions and businesses

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.