Copy editing

From ArticleWorld

Copy editing occurs when an editor makes text and formatting changes to written material, known as copy. This copy can be handwritten or typed.


Use of the term

There is no universal form for 'copy editing' itself. In magazine and book publishing, it is typically written as one word, copyediting. In the newspaper industry, it often is written as two words, copy editing, or hyphenated, copy-editing. Hyphenation is commonly used in Britain. The same rules as above apply to the term copy editor. In British magazine and newspaper industries, 'sub-editing' is often used instead.

Tasks involved

Copy editing involves the correction of spelling and punctuation, as well as grammatical and usage errors. Plus, the copy editor must ensure that the work meets the publisher’s style and is expected to add headers, footers and headlines as needed. These are all factors that must be addressed before a typesetter can proof the final product.

The copy editor also makes sure that the text makes sense, has a logical flow and is accurate and fair. He or she uses his or her judgment to determine if the publisher runs a risk of legal problems from the publication of the material. Copy editors cut the text to meet space requirements. This process is also called trimming. At times, the copy editor is the only person other than the author to read the copy before it is published.

The influence of technology

Copy editors once read a printed or written text, like a manuscript, and marked it with traditional proofreader’s marks. Today, however, most original versions of the text come in an electronic file and corrections can be made directly on screen. Copy editors are now also often involved in preparing the text for online publication. This means that, at times, technical knowledge is just as important as writing ability, especially in journalism.

Required skills

Copy editors should have enough general knowledge to spot suspicious material or factual errors and be able to recognize inconsistencies in copy. They should be able to interact with writers and publishers (and at times, advertisers) equally well. Copy editors typically have a degree in journalism or communications and are familiar with news design and pagination. Usually, they must pass a test to show their copy editing skills.