Copy editing is preparing written content for publication and the copy editor is a professional who can work in any industry who assesses and edits the written material. They often read a manuscript, check for grammar, spelling, and facts, and ensure that it’s readable and matches any stipulated style guide. This stage usually comes after an editor completes a developmental review. Sometimes, a copy editor rewrites and reviews material through production.
A copy editor has several responsibilities, depending on the specifications of their role. Most perform the below tasks regardless of their employer’s or client’s need:
Proofread: one of the most common tasks of a copy editor is to proofread a text for grammar, spelling, and syntax errors. Copy editors might proofread a text one or several times to make sure the content is error-free.
Check facts: copy editors verify the correctness of facts within a piece of writing such as statistics, references, and dates. If facts are incorrect, they may make the change directly in the content or send it back to the author for review.
Apply style: each company, task, or piece of written content has a specific style to apply. A copy editor verifies that the tone, voice, and word choice align with a client’s expectations.
Query authors: while copy editors check for errors, there may be some areas that are unclear or misleading. Copy editors often use online editing or commenting tools to send queries back to authors or developmental editors.
Arrange layout and format: copy editors might also arrange the layout of certain pages, including where to place images, advertisements, and other media. Similarly, they can ensure the text, headings, links, captions, and more are all formatted correctly.
Rewrite text: copy editors either suggest that authors rewrite large amounts of text, or they might rewrite sentences and paragraphs themselves. When rewriting, they may include a question or comment for the author to review.
Proofreading is often the last editing stage for written content before it’s published. Proofreaders may verify correctness against source material or against the style guide to ensure the copy editor corrected everything. Some tasks that a proofreader performs are very similar to the copy editor, though there are typically fewer errors for a proofreader to find. Some of their tasks include:
Reviewing for correctness: proofreaders also work with a client’s style guide and verify that grammar, spelling, syntax, and structure are all correct. Proofreading is often the last check before releasing content to the public, so it’s important that the proofreader reviews everything carefully.
Checking for plagiarism: sometimes, a proofreader might put written content through an online plagiarism checker to verify the material is original or properly cited. If the proofreader finds content that is too similar to another source, they may send it back to the author or copy editor to rewrite sections.
Fact checking: proofreaders perform an additional fact check on the written content to ensure the copy editor had verified everything. Accurate fact reporting is important to build credibility with your audience.
Verifying there are no formatting issues: sometimes, a copy editor completes their work with word processing software and then imports their written work into another program. Proofreaders have to check that the layout matches the edited material, no errors such as spacing issues arose, and that all content is available.
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Reprinted from indeed.com