Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What Does Copy Editing Really Mean?

There is absolutely no specific way to copy edit a write-up. You may modify a sentence in your essay in numerous ways, and to an amateur, editing documents is invariably a difficult job. Assuredly, copy editing usually requires specialized learning and substantial practical experience to perfect.

On the other hand, across the world of freelancing, many excellent content editors really do not really have a diploma in journalism or equivalent profession. These individuals become self-made copy editors because of self-study and utter dedication.

This is made possible on account of the variety of available resources on the Web. This is certainly true because I belong to this group of self-made content editors. In order to become a good copyeditor, you need to understand only a few good ideas. In this post, I will give my utmost to express them as clear as is practical.

What Is Copy Editing

A coworker of mine in an outsourcing platform gave me a clear explanation about copy editing. This explanation made a tremendous effect on my editing profession for good! She stated:

To edit content, it is your work being an editor to make each sentence:

1. Grammatically correct
2. With a clear meaning
3. While maintaing the writer's original purpose

There you go. That’s what is copy editing all about. Let’s discuss every element a little bit.

Accurate Grammar  

Grammatically accurate sentences are free of any kind of errors in:

  1. Sentence structure  
  2. Parallelism 
  3. Verb tense 
  4. Pronoun-antecedent agreement 
  5. Subject-verb agreement  

Precise Meaning  

To make sure every single sentence carries a clear purpose, try and enhance word choice and correct strange wording. To get this done, you might need to completely redo a sentence or paragraph. Ask these important questions to help determine whether rewriting is important:

  1. Does the sentence sound like ESLish? 
  2. Does each single word make sense at all? 
  3. Is the sentence readable?  

Keeping the Writer's Intention  

Maintaining the content’s initial meaning is paramount. Consider this whenever you approach an editing project. It's always recommended that you keep the modifications as minimal as possible. In the event you must make a major modification, leave a comment to the writer explaining the revision. When doing this, write your note in a professional approach to avoid your message coming across as blunt.

Copy Editing Tricks for New Editors  

If you are an inexperienced editor, you might want to make up your mind at times concerning what editing style to make use of in particular situations. While many clients generally indicate the editing style from the start, other customers are simply unfamiliar with the many editing styles. In such a case, make your decision according to the style utilized by a good number of editors.

Here are a few some pointers I believe can help a good deal in your editing job. I discovered these from my personal editing experience.

1. If the author regularly utilizes (or does not) the serial comma inside an article, follow this style all the way through.


I devote this tune to Karen, LJ, and Christine.

2. If the writer favors the Chicago editing style, employ Merriam-Webster to ascertain the correct spelling of a term. This helps you identify if a compound word is separate, hyphenated, or combined. Apply whatever spelling is provided there. Most clients opt for this dictionary more than other dictionaries, such as, irrespective of the editing style.
For instance, Merriam-Webster shows “long-standing,” while uses both “longstanding” and “long-standing.” Choose one dictionary before you start editing.

3. Ask the author what documentation style to implement in the document. For example, when he or she favors APA style, follow such a style from in-text citations to bibliography.

4. If the author introduces a new expression, italics and not quotation marks are more ideal for this objective.


The utilization of prescription anesthetics without first getting a doctor's prescription simply to feel their pleasant effects is labelled non-medical use.

5. Standard American formatting dictates the use of double quotes on most instances. Apply single quotes only if one more quotation is stacked within a larger quote.


A post about insomnia treatment choices shows, "Greater than 80 percent of patients mentioned they were 'really delighted' with all the outcomes."

6. In the majority of styles, periods and commas are placed inside of quotations marks, whereas colons and semicolons are positioned outside.


"This is how the term was drafted in the original source."
When he said, “Aspiration is a forerunner of inspiration,” he was not fooling around.

By now you must have a good idea of what is copy editing. In short, copy editing indicates making sentences definite, grammatically correct, and in accordance with the writer's meaning.