5 Super Powers of a Good Copy Editor

Typos are not just embarrassing, they also can cost a lot of money. We’ve all heard horror stories of a missing number in a sales price and the eagle-eyed customers who reaped the savings.

To avoid similar issues with your brand’s content, PR Newswire’s customer content services team copy edits hundreds of press releases every day and corrects thousands of would-be mistakes each month.

In the final moments before a press release is distributed, they catch spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and even discrepancies in financial statements (earnings per share of $0.19 is a lot different than earnings per share of $.019), all while the reader never really knows who they are.

Whether it’s through experience or innate talent, good copy editors are superpowered — able to see what others miss. Here are five superpowers that all copy editors possess.

X-Ray Vision

A good copy editor is able to spot a typo a mile away. Their technical skills and prowess can never be replaced by spellcheck. Spellcheck can’t read for context, nor can it distinguish between homophones like principle and principal.


Our customer content services team deals with a myriad of deadlines on a daily basis. Some of these deadlines are a few hours away, while others are measured in minutes.

During some of these seemingly impossible deadlines, an editor will notice a discrepancy in the headline and first paragraph. Perhaps a product isn’t spelled the same way or the headline references first quarter results while the first paragraph talks about the second quarter.

A skilled copy editor has the innate ability to see these, and an editor with years of experience knows where to look for mistakes.


When copy editors do their job well, the reader won’t even know they were there.

For every new “manger of pubic relations” (yes, I have seen that more than a few times in my 20 years at PR Newswire), our customers are forever grateful for our ability to identify and quietly disarm the land mines in their press release.

We’re not looking to make a splash. We just want to make sure your release goes out clean. So we quickly make the changes and alert you. That way, you can update your own version, in case you’re planning to send the press release to additional contacts.

In Slate.com’s review of Mary Norris’ memoir “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen,” Miriam Krule captures the crux of what every copy editor strives for: “The copy editor is most successful when nobody notices her. A copy editor who is invisible to the point of seeming unnecessary is often the best at her job—it means she never lets anything through. It’s only the writer and editor, whose grammar or logic the copy editor questions, who ever have the opportunity to truly appreciate the copy editor’s influence. But when your job is, in its essence, telling people that they’re wrong, sometimes being invisible is the preferred option.”



Each year, PR Newswire issues thousands of press releases. The customer content services team approaches each release with a fresh set of eyes, while also dealing with customer service calls, requests, questions and more. At the end of the day, each member of the customer content services team has had their hands on 30 or more news releases.


A pitfall for most writers is the tendency to spend hours slaving over their writing, but there comes a time when you have to put down the red pen. Knowing when to stop is one of the toughest powers to cultivate as a copy editor. Keep in mind your overall objective for your story and let that be the guide on when enough is enough.

As with any superpower, with great power comes great responsibility. Talk to anyone who edits for a living and you’ll find two things: 1) They can’t turn it off. They’ll see every typo in a restaurant menu and every editing gaffe in the local paper. And, 2) they become the go-to resource for every question their friends have when it comes to grammar, punctuation or writing.

Fortunately, PR Newswire’s customer content services department is on-call 24/7 for your press releases. We’ll use these five superpowers to ensure your message is on point, grammatically correct, and impactful. If I were to give our team a superhero name, I’d call us “The Invisibles” – you may never see us, but without us, who will fix that day/date discrepancy?