Copyediting

Lianne Slavin, Managing Production Editor at Manchester University Press, came to teach us all about copyediting. we practiced a lot on unedited versions of documents and comparing our choices with the edited document.

The two main things I’ve learnt:

  • Judith Butcher’s Copy-Editing is one of the copyediting bibles.
  • In short, copyediting is about looking out for stuff that feels wrong and paying attention to details.

And a few more things:

  • Be consistent.
  • Make sure there are no contradictions. Quite often that’s making sure hyphenation, italics, and capitals are consistent (follow the house style and/or brief that you are given) .
  • Check referencing styles are correctly formatted.
  • A lot of it is judgment calls and anything you’re unsure about you can query (put in a comment).

When copyediting look out for:

  1. US or UK spellings, such as ise/ize, or the more tricky enroll/enrol
  2. Acronymns
  3. Serial/Oxford comma (depending on house style and adherence to house style)
  4. Run-on sentences
  5. Misuse of words though they are written correctly, e.g. principle/principal
  6. Use of en dases, em dashes and hyphens
  7. Italics
  8. Fall/autumn and other cultural and geographic differences
  9. Figures and tables are consistent
  10. Use of double or single quote marks

copyediting is about closing the gap between what they said and what they meant to say so that the reader understands what is written

You can take a proofreading test on SfEP’s website here.

I tried it on 9.12.15; failed at 68%, with 224 out of 330 total possible score points.

sfep test

But all is not lost, they think I can get there with some extra training, which SfEP offers. Fail better next time 🙂

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