In Brief...

A copy-editor's role is to make sure that your text flows well and is error-free, consistent and grammatically correct before it is published. Spelling mistakes, typos and inconsistencies stick out like a sore thumb and can distract a reader from your business message. Use our editorial services to ensure your business communications come up to scratch.

Contact us for a no obligation quote today. Our editorial rates start at a very competitive £21.50 per hour for proofreading, and £25.50 per hour for copy-editing (with discounts available for small business and charitable organisations).

To help you find out more, we have listed some of the most frequently asked questions below.


What exactly does a copy-editor do ?

A copy-editor works on an author’s original text (also known as “copy”) to prepare it for publication. He or she will check that the text is:

  • consistent (in terms of abbreviations, capitalisation, hyphenation, spelling, use of UK/US English, house style, etc)
  • grammatically correct (in terms of spelling, punctuation, wording)
  • suitable for its intended audience (in terms of jargon, abbreviations, tone, sentence length, technical vocabulary, etc)
  • well structured (in terms of headings, lists, tables, paragraph and sentence length, flow of text)
  • well written (a copy-editor will reword and restructure text as necessary to improve the flow)
  • the correct length for its purpose (text may need to be cut down to a specific word length)
  • accurately referenced (in terms of chapter headings, sub-headings, cross-references, web links, captions and positioning of tables/illustrations)
  • factually correct (a copy-editor will check basic facts - for example names, places, website addresses, etc).

Note: in the magazine/newspaper industry this is often known as sub-editing.

What does a copy-editor NOT do?

A copy-editor will not:

  • rewrite your text for you. They will reword and reorder text to improve flow, but substantial rewriting would not be included in this task. This is the work of the copywriter.
  • do your research for you. They will check basic facts such as names, places and website addresses, but should not be expected to carry out in-depth research into a topic.
  • design your publication for you. This is best left to an experienced typesetter

How many pages does a copy-editor get through per hour?

Obviously this can vary greatly, depending on the quality of the original text. But as a guideline, a copy-editor would expect to get through between 1500 to 3000 words per hour (5 - 10 pages). If the corrections need to be typed out (rather than marked up on a hard copy or edited on-screen) then 10 per cent will be added to the quote. Translated texts would generally take longer, as more work is usually required to edit the copy into idiomatic English.

What is the difference between copy-editing and proofreading?

There is a great deal of overlap between the roles of copy-editor and proofreader, but essentially, an author’s original text is copy-edited by a copy-editor before being typeset/formatted for the web, then the paper or on-screen “proof” is proofread by a proofreader before being approved for publication. Often there is more than one proof stage before the newsletter or publication is signed off for print or for publication online.

What does a proofreader do?

A proofreader carries out a quality check of the text, once it has been typeset/formatted for online publication, and will focus on the following areas:

  • checking for typos (typographical errors introduced during the typesetting/web design process)
  • page layout (identifying any typesetting/web design errors and inconsistencies, checking tables/illustrations are inserted in the correct place, etc)
  • correct use of language (spelling, grammar, punctuation, tone etc – to pick up anything missed by the copy-editor)
  • consistency (in terms of abbreviations, capitalisation, hyphenation, spelling, etc)
  • page numbers and internal referencing (cross-references, web links, chapter/page numbers, illustration/table captions and numbers)
  • cutting down any overmatter (ie if a newsletter article has gone over its allocated space, or if there are “widows” and “orphans”, the proof-reader will need to cut out enough text to make the article fit perfectly)
  • checking off original manuscripts against proofs (this is done if the originals are available, but often proof-reading is done “blind”).

For printed matter, the proofreader will mark any errors onto the proof using standard proof correction marks as set out in British Standard BS5261:2. Proofreading for online publications is done electronically, and any corrections will be marked straight onto the electronic copy. Any other queries or ambiguities will be collated and sent back to the author/publisher for checking. Note, there is often more than one proof stage before a newsletter or publication is signed off for print.

What does a proofreader NOT do?

The proofreader carries out a quality check of the text, and will only make minor changes to the content in terms of spelling, grammar, etc. He or she will not restructure or reword the text, or check facts and figures – this is the copy-editor’s role.

How many pages does a proofreader get through per hour?

A proofreader will generally be able to read between 3000 to 4500 words per hour (10 to 15 pages). If the corrections need to be typed out (rather than marked up on a hard copy or edited on-screen) then 10 per cent will be added to the quote.

What if my job requires a mix of copy-editing, copywriting and proofreading?

Often, we receive jobs which require a mix of copywriting, copy-editing, proofreading and rewriting all in one, particularly when working on new web content which has not been prepared by a professional writer. As a rule of thumb, when preparing original content for the web, we expect to get through 500-1000 words per hour. For jobs which require a mixture of copywriting, editing, and proofreading all in one, we would work out an appropriate hourly rate depending on your specific requirements.

Can you work with translated texts?

Material that has been translated into English from another language needs special attention to ensure it has the correct spelling, grammar, syntax and sentence structure. Computer-assisted translation can often produce quite unnatural results, as it does not take into account background information, target audience, context and idioms, which only a human translator can do.

Let us take your translated text and edit it into perfect, idiomatic English.

International clients include Venui Vanilla, based in Vanuatu.

Please contact us with any further questions or queries.

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This site is copyright E J Cooper t/a Amberweb UK, Surrey. Last updated 4 January 2011.