What is copy-editing and how can it help you?

How could a copy-editor help you?

If you have never used the services of a copy-editor to look over your writing, let me explain how you could be missing out. The relatively minor cost of hiring a copy-editor’s expertise is usually more than offset by the added value gained. When you have spent hours writing an important document which will have a significant effect on your professional reputation, why not spend that extra time to get it just right?

Hiring a copy-editor is a smart move

Copy-editing is a process that examines both the sentence structure and the detail of text, suggesting or making improvements, depending on how you agree to work. The editor will read for clarity and sense. It’s frustrating (ineffective and inefficient) for a reader to have to read something several times to grasp the meaning.

An editor can also improve the flow, checking that one idea develops into another in the right sequence, confirming that concepts are adequately explained, and that word choice is appropriate for the audience. Sometimes it might be necessary to fact check any details and the copy-editor can handle this as a separate task.

Will a copy-editor improve your text?

However much time you spend on your writing, adding a copy-editing stage will always improve it. A good copy-editor will be experienced and skilled at making writing as clear and correct as possible. And it’s an investment for the future too; any copy-editor suggestions can feed into your approach to future writing.

What copy-editing isn’t

Copy-editing is frequently confused with other processes. Although copy-editors can take on other editorial roles, the process of copy-editing has its own special focus, and is distinct from:

  • writing – original content creation is not the role of a copy-editor
  • development editing – this is about asking whether the writing works and is achieving what it sets out to do, and it happens before copy-editing. If the manuscript is not yet fit for purpose, a development edit, in consultation with you as the author, can lead to significant changes to help structure your thoughts more effectively (this will be the subject of a future blog)
  • proofreading – this is the last stage, corrects the fine detail and is not part of a copy-edit; traditionally, proofreading compared the typeset ‘proofs’ against the manuscript, but in the digital world it is often a standalone check.

Finally

I hope this has given you some thoughts to ponder when preparing to publish your writing.  

You may already be convinced that a professional pair of eyes would help but feel anxious about letting someone else loose on your handiwork! Don’t be, the best copy-editors will work closely (and sensitively) with you in creating a piece of writing that is concise, has impact and reads well.

Find out more about what a copy-editor can do for you here.

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