Differences Between a Copywriter & Copy Editor


Copywriter and copy editor are very different positions. The job title "copywriter" typically refers to someone who prepares written copy for advertisements. The copy editor performs basic editing of written copy for news organizations, websites, book publishers and other companies to ensure copy meets the goals and standards of the publication. Though they work in separate industries, professionals in these roles share the goal of creating the best final written piece for respective employers or clients.

Background Requirements

  • A copywriter usually needs a bachelor's degree in marketing, advertising, journalism, communications or a related field. An effective copywriter combines creativity, marketing awareness and professional writing abilities. Copy editors start with a degree in journalism, English or communications. Most gain a few years of experience in a reporter position before landing an editing job. Along with English language expertise, copy editors need a keen eye for recognizing quality content.

Pay Variance

  • Salary data specific to copywriters and copy editors is difficult to find. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the typical "writer" made more than the typical "editor" as of May 2012, although these positions covered a wide range of jobs that went beyond copywriter and copy editor. For example, the BLS's "Writers and Authors" job category includes novelists, screenwriters, songwriters and biographers in addition to copywriters, while the "Editor" category includes everything from publication assistants to high-ranking executive editors. In any case, the median writer pay was $55,940 per year as of May 2012, while the median editor pay was $53,880 per year. Job growth is expected to remain pretty flat for both career types in coming years. The BLS projected a 3 percent increase in writing positions from 2012 to 2022, compared to a 2 percent decline in editor jobs.

Copywriter Goals

  • The primary role of the copywriter is to develop advertising copy that informs, persuades or reminds a client's target audience about a brand, product or service. The copywriter collaborates with the art director to develop a creative strategy for a given advertisement. He then creates the words that convey benefits to the targeted prospects. Compelling copy is essential to achieving the advertiser's goals, which is to prompt targeted prospects to take the desired action.

Copy Editor Goals

  • The copy editor's job is to evaluate the writer's work, with particular emphasis on grammar, spelling and punctuation. While it is the writer's responsibility to prepare factual content, it is the copy editor's job to fact-check the copy to ensure it is accurate before it gets published or printed. The copy editor doesn't typically oversee copy assignments nor have creative oversight. However, she does help the writer finalize content that meets the basic requirements of a particular piece. The BLS reports that copy editors might also suggest revisions to improve clarity or accuracy, such as changing words or rearranging sentences.

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