Sally Chewter - Copy Editor / Proofreader

Copy Editing - the options

copy editorYou have written your text or your book, but before submitting it for publishing, or self-publishing, you know it probably needs thorough checking and tidying up.  This can be difficult to do yourself, as you will see what you expect to see and will tend to miss any errors.

In a sense, copy-editing is a "step up" from proofreading, although in the traditional publishing process, it actually comes before proofreading. The idea is that the copy (the manuscript, document, etc.) is first edited by a copy-editor and then proofread as the last "quality control" phase.

Outside the traditional publishing context, however, the difference between proofreading and copy-editing is more about the level of intervention in the text, and I provide an automatic proofreading phase on all my editing.

While a proofreader focuses solely on accuracy and consistency of spelling, punctuation and grammar, a copy-editor also works to improve the text.

Depending on requirements, a copy-editor may edit for the following:

Breakdown of over-long sentences and paragraphs
Bullets and numbered lists
Logical flow
Proper nouns (names of places, people, brands, shops, companies, etc.)

Like proofreading, copy-editing is not just needed for bad writers! Almost all authors, no matter how experienced, require the services of a copy-editor to tidy up their work. That's why every publishing house in the world sends their manuscripts through both a copy-editor and a proofreader before publication.

Everything needs editing!

Don't make the mistake of thinking yours is the exception.

Whether simply a promotional email, a catalogue, a poster, an important business letter, a contract, your first novel, your undergrad thesis, or just your blog on how to look after pet salamanders ... if it was worth writing, it's worth getting edited.

When was the last time you read the instructions of a widget manufactured in China? Here's a recent one, for a PH water tester: "... suck the tester with filter paper..." it told me (it should probably have read something along the lines of "... dry the tester with kitchen towel...").

Actually, come to think of it, maybe we wouldn't be doing the world a favour by editing foreign instruction manuals! They can cheer up someone's day.

My copy-editing services are flexible and tailored to meet your requirements – you can choose the level of "intervention" that you require.

Based on your uploaded documents, I will provide a recommended level of editing with your quote, but the final choice, of course, remains yours.

You can select the style of editing you need (UK/US, formal/informal, academic/commercial, modern/traditional, etc.), and in that respect, the more contextual information I have on the copy to be edited, the better.

If edited in Microsoft Word, the work is done in Word's Track Changes mode, which allows you to see every single change made (down to format changes and deleted spaces).

You retain complete control of the editing process – following the copy-edit, clients are free to reject or accept any changes made using the Track Changes feature.

 Light editing

The text is usually written by a native speaker with a good grasp of grammar and the English language. Minor inconsistencies, spelling mistakes, punctuation and awkward syntax are corrected.

The structure of the piece or document is also checked, including paragraphing and headings, numbering, diagram/photograph captions (if relevant), and any layout inconsistencies.

The cost of light editing will naturally be higher than proofreading, but lower than substantial editing (see PRICING).

Substantial editing

Clearly, this level of intervention in the editing process is for work that is not of the highest standard, or which has been thrown together patchily from various sources.

Most commonly, substantial editing is done on work produced by non-native speakers.

Whole sentences may need to be re-written, and vocabulary changed considerably.

English or American?

Although there is no doubt that American and British English are the same language, there are important differences in terms of style, punctuation, syntax, and vocabulary.

You may be aware of some of these, but it is almost impossible for someone to know the full extent of those little differences without being professionally trained in proofreading and/or copy editing.

Most people are familiar with the "-ise/-ize" issue, but few will know, for example, that it is in fact US English which uses full points ("periods" in American) in abbreviations, and not British English ("U.S.A." but "UK"), or a period after common terms of address ("Mr. America" but "Mr British").

Although a specialist in UK English, I have been proofreading US English material for some years, and several of the testimonials on this website are from satisfied US clients.

I habitually translate UK to US English, and vice versa.

Most editing work is now done electronically and sent via email (though some publishers do still edit on hard copy sent to and fro through the post).




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