As copyeditor I make sure every word and punctuation mark serves your purpose: to get your message across, free from error and contradiction.
The terms light, medium, heavy, and substantive copyediting -- commonly used in the publishing industry -- have come to mean different things to different publishers and writers. Each writing project needs its own level of copyediting.
I quickly assess a project and communicate clearly about the level of editing the material needs. Flexible and responsive, I work within your time and budget constraints, freeing you to focus on other tasks.
The (disappearing) difference between copyediting and proofreading
Electronic publishing has made it possible to take writing from first draft to publication -- whether online or on paper -- all in one file. Copyediting and proofreading may happen in one step. This is sometimes called editorial proofreading.
All too often, electronic publishers publish writing without editing or proofreading it. The Web is filled with examples of writing that "just got out of bed." Dazzling graphics, animation, and sound entice readers, but the written content lets them down.
Writing worth publishing -- whether on screen or on paper -- is worth a careful edit. Your message deserves it, and so do your readers. It's what distinguishes a professional website from an amateur one.
Just what is it I do?
When I copyedit, I correct the same errors that a proofreader looks for. These include errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. (See Your Writing Checked in Six Critical Areas.)
But copyediting goes far beyond proofreading. Editing a draft manuscript requires subjective judgment and rewriting skills.
I make sure I understand your message, and that your readers will understand it, too. I ensure that introductions, sections, summaries, and cross-references all harmonize. I break up long, rambling sentences into shorter, more readable ones. I bring important clauses from the tail end of the sentence to the beginning. I replace vague and inappropriate words.
Consistent style is the hallmark of polished, professional writing. I ensure this by developing a style sheet for each manuscript as I edit, or adding to an existing style sheet. The style sheet establishes standards for consistent use of terms and elements. This is especially valuable when the manuscript has several authors. You can use my style sheet for future writing projects, too.
When only you -- the writer -- can clarify a confusing passage, provide the right spelling of a proper name, or resolve conflicting statements, I flag the manuscript with a clear, tactful query. I suggest possible answers and options, so you can simply indicate your choice.
Note: Online editing in Microsoft Word allows me to query with the Reviewer Comments feature (called Annotations in older versions). These electronic queries can be displayed or hidden, and easily cut and pasted into the text as you choose.
Here are two examples of writing as I received it from a client, and after my copyediting.
Before My Copyediting
The benefits of local control of curiculum, however, present two inherent disadvantages: lack of coherent vision of what students are expected to know and be able to do, and districts have very little accountability to higher-level authorities.
After My Copyediting
Despite the advantages of local curriculum control, there are two inherent disadvantages. First, there may be no coherent vision of what students are expected to know and be able to do. Second, local districts have little accountability to higher-level authorities.
Before My Copyediting
For descriptions of some of my copyediting projects, please continue to the next page.
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