What is copy-editing?
A copy-editor makes sure that:
- the content is organized in a sensible and logical way;
- the writing is coherent and makes sense to the intended audience;
- illustrations and tables are related to the text;
- there are no spelling mistakes;
- the grammar and punctuation are correct;
- the style is consistent;
- the document is complete.
‘Copy-editors are the unsung heroes and heroines of academic writing.’
What is proofreading?
A proofreader will check that:
- the spelling and grammar are correct and the style consistent;
- there are no awkward column breaks or word breaks at the end of a line;
- titles, headings, captions, and so on are in the correct font;
- illustrations and tables are present and correctly positioned;
- the contents list matches the actual text;
- the layout of pages makes sense;
- all the pages are present and the document is complete.
‘Thanks so much for all this meticulous work. I love to write, and it's a privilege to have someone go over my sentences in such fine detail.’
Do you need a copy-editor or a proofreader?
If your text has not been edited by a professional copy-editor, you probably need a copy-editor rather than a proofreader. Ideally, copy-editing should be done early on in the production process, while proofreading should be a final check, involving only minor corrections. Good copy-editing at an early stage can save much unnecessary work and cost at the proof stage, when corrections tend to be much more expensive, especially in print publications. In online publications and web pages, the distinction between copy-editing and proofreading is, of course, more fluid.
Click on the thumbnail on the right for a short SfEP video about copy-editing and proofreading, and the difference between them.
Editing to a house style
I have experience of editing to many different style guides, including New Hart’s Rules, The Chicago Manual of Style, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), and the American Anthropological Association Style Guide (AAA). I can edit to your house style or any style you prefer, British or American. I can also help you put together a style guide for your project or organization if you do not already have one.