Today’s session on copy-editing was a more in depth overview of what copy-editing is and what processes are involved. An important, and relatively unheard of concept, is that of ‘house style’, whereby each publishing house will have there own way of copy-editing. Not really associated with grammatical changes, the house style is more concerned with the structuring and layout of headings and content. For example, Slavin discussed how in MUP the headings after the first word are not capitalised. This is a decision made by MUP but other Presses, particularly Academic and Education Presses, do not adhere to this. Mark Nichol observes that ‘the copy editor’s task is to finesse a writer’s prose so that it observes all the conventions of good writing’ (1). This goes beyond just making grammatical sense but also assessing its consistency and ‘smoothness’ as Nichol alludes to.
Summarising a copy-editors job can be categorised into three areas:
* Editing for sense – Does what the authors write make sense? This entails checking for misspelling, punctuation accuracy, credibility of writing, and coherency.
* Checking for consistency – Does the author write in the same style throughout? Do they repeat facts and sources unnecessarily? Also, are there contradictions in the content and does the line of argument remain consistent?
* Coding/styling up – This is more to do with editing pieces of work to coincide with the housing style of that publishing house. For academic publishing, contents and index pages need to be accurate too, as to does the referencing since each referencing system is different. Even font needs to be considered. For example, italicising and underlining at the right times.
The copy-editor’s job, if done well, should eliminate the majority of the errors. However, there will still be some inaccuracies that the copy-editor has missed, hence the need for proofreaders. The next stage is to pass the work on to the typesetters and production editors.
1) Nichol, Mark. (2011) The Difference Between Copyediting and Proofreading. http://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-difference-between-copyediting-and-proofreading/ [accessed 26 December 2015)