Copywriting, business writing, proofreading, editing... what are they?

As a general rule, if you want to completely outsource a writing project, you will require copywriting or business writing services. If you have written or will write a document yourself and need it improving or just checked over, you will need proofreading/ editing services. More details below.


Copywriting can often be mixed up with copyrighting, or copytyping, but is neither of these. It is ... writing copy! Which means writing pretty much anything that will appear in print- whether on paper or online. Traditionally copywriting has been associated with advertising, but can mean assistance with writing your website, articles, newsletter, employee communications, flyers, company profiles, letters, emails, presentations, proposals, pitch documents, manuals, policy and procedure documents etc.

Business Writing

There isn't really a standard term but business writing is as close as can be for helping anyone in business to get any documents written. With my finance background, this can include assisting you to write your business plan, funding/ capital applications, business case, tender documents, annual report, proposals, tenders, award submissions, as well as general correspondence, websites etc (see copywriting).


Proofreading usually occurs at the later stages of producing a document as the final "quality control" check before it hits the printers or is submitted as final. Proofreading commonly refers to correcting spellings, grammar, punctuation and general "typos" but also encompasses checking;
  • Consistency of terminology within a document
  • Consistency of use of fonts, particularly in headings, footnotes, references etc
  • Sequential page numbering, headings, table references etc
  • Glossaries
  • Page and section breaks are not in inconvenient places.


Editing involves assisting with the structure and content of a document. Examples are ensuring the text is suitable for the intended audience, ensuring the document creates an impact (looking at length of text and paragraphs, order of sub-topics, use of headings, tone and style, flow, use of jargon, footnotes, diagrams etc), accuracy of information, and consistency within the text and with the publisher's style manual (where appropriate).

Editorial work involves a collaborative approach to maintain the author's style and vision, while ensuring the document creates maximum impact with the intended reader.

There is clearly some overlap between all of these services and the distinction may blur depending on the complexity of your document and your stage in the drafting process.