The importance of a proper copy editing process

Copy editing is one of those jobs that is vital to the quality of a business’s offering but nobody sees the work that is put in until something goes wrong. Readers and audiences have no idea how important copy editing is until they spot grammatical errors and factual discrepancies.

Having a clearly defined copy editing process ensures that the machine is well-oiled. Work goes out on-time and mistakes are picked up before being published to a scrutinising audience.

There are a few simple steps that need to be implemented to ensure that your team knows the value of copy editing. These processes and procedures need to be followed by all writers and editors to improve the overall quality of your company’s content.

Make sure your team knows what the copy editors do

Copy editing is a behind-the-scenes job; the editors get no credit on articles but have a direct influence over the final version that gets published. Unfortunately, few employees and none of the readers get the chance to see the work that copy editors do.

Shedding some light on the roles and responsibilities of copy editors is the first step to starting a proper process. Employees need to know exactly why the copy editor is there, and that they don’t just sit around waiting for articles to come in for editing.

Copy editors have roles outside of simple editing, such as running content management systems, maintaining updates, tracking blog posts and handling content emails. These roles vary from company to company, but you need to ensure that everyone knows the duties that are expected of copy editors.

These extra responsibilities mean that turnaround times for articles may not be instant, but it is up to the copy editor to make sure that deadlines are met and the editorial schedule is running on track. Writers need to exercise some patience while editors juggle various roles throughout the day.

It’s important for writers and editors to work together. Writers do need to have a say in the final versions of articles as they get published in their name. If your entire team understands each other’s roles and processes, the whole editorial department will run smoothly and efficiently.

Assign tasks fairly and establish clear lines of communication

One way to speed the editorial process up is to ensure that all writers know exactly who to send their articles to for editing, and who to talk to when there are concerns. If you employ multiple editors, they each need to be assigned tasks equally and fairly.

One possible way to split the editing workload is to assign news content to one editor and events to another. Or, you could split all content between the number of editors every day, ensuring that they get an equal amount of articles to edit.

Writers need to send their work to the right editor to prevent any duplication of work, which ultimately wastes the time of the editors and the team. If the writer has an emergency or a query about an edit, they should know exactly which editor to talk to.

If an editor is off sick, all employees need to know who to turn to next – be it another copy editor, a manager or a head of department. Having clear lines of communication will prevent any misunderstandings and confusion.

Establish appropriate turnaround times for each type of content

Not all content is equal in terms of urgency and longevity. News stories need to be published as soon as possible, and often they only remain relevant for a day or two. Restaurant reviews, on the other hand, don’t have to be uploaded immediately and will stay relevant for months or years to come.

Make sure your editors know what type of content takes preference for editing. News articles and scoops are more time-dependent and so should take preference over long-form editorial content that is more evergreen.

Establishing appropriate turnaround times will allow your editors to manage their workload more efficiently and ensure that your website benefits from being the first to upload a story and the resulting traffic boost. Editors can take control of their own workflow and keep the editorial department running on time.

Define approval processes and who gets the final say

Often, writers will disagree with an edit made by the editor. Who gets the final say in these cases? It usually comes down to whomever uploads the article and publishes it. The same thing may happen when two editors work together on a piece of content.

To avoid arguments and confusion, you need to clearly establish who gets the final say with edits. The best solution is to give editors the power, but allow writers to review the edits and discuss them directly with the editors if they have a concern.

This way, the writer can proudly publish content under their name while keeping true to the original voice and message. It gives them a chance to discuss edits that they don’t necessarily like with the editor, allowing them to work together to find a common solution.

These steps will minimise turnaround times and the occurrence of mistakes in your company’s editorial content. Audiences can be ruthless when they find errors and discrepancies, so the copy editor’s job is highly important. These steps will also ensure that your team works efficiently and in harmony with one another.


Sorted Design Agency is a creative company that constantly looks for solutions to other people’s problems. These problems come mostly in the visual format, such as graphic design, logo and illustration, but we’re experts in brand development, website design, and digital SEO campaigns as well.


Based in Pretoria and Cape Town, Sorted has been in the content marketing industry since 2006. We assist your company with its corporate identity by communicating core values through content and articles written for your website, blog and news area. This content is supported by AdWords and social advertising, which facilitates wider reach and audience growth. Turn your website into a business tool.


Sorted also owns two other businesses; InkFish Print Studio – a printing company that handles a range of promotional materials for businesses and other services for individual customers, and Pampiri + Kie – a gifts and stationery store selling online and in-store. Both of these companies operate from Cape Town and Pretoria.


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