My last three posts have explained the differences between the three types of editing: content editing, copy editing, and proofreading. In these posts, I stressed the fact that each type of editing should be completed separately. But why is that? And why are they completed in such a particular order?
The main reason each level of editing ought to be completed separately is so the editor’s efforts are focused.
Another important reason for each stage of editing to be completed separately is to prevent double-ups from occurring. For example, if an editor completes copy editing before or alongside content editing, they’ll likely have to redo the task anyway. Content editing includes rewriting, rearranging, adding, and omitting text, which means if that text was copy edited already, all that hard work will be undone.
The separation of these tasks also means that an editor can focus on a specific set of elements without getting sidetracked. Editing structure and content takes a lot longer if the editor stops to think about every comma and dash along the way. Keeping the stages of editing separate makes it easier to do each job thoroughly, because the editor isn’t trying to do too many things at once.
Another reason the three stages happen in this order is that, once a piece of work has been put in the design file, making changes like adding or removing words creates a lot more work for the designer than you might think. Keeping the stages separate ensures that each level of editing is completed thoroughly, without distraction, to minimise having to redo tedious work.