From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- For copy editing on Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:How to copy-edit.
Copy editing is the process by which an editor makes formatting changes and other improvements to text. Copy, in this case a noun, refers to material (such as handwritten or typewritten pages) to be set (as in typesetting) for printing. A person who performs the task of copy editing is called a copy editor. The highest ranking copy editor in an organization or an individual who supervises a group of copy editors is referred to as a copy chief.
There is no universal form for the term. In magazine and book publishing, it is often written as one word (copyediting). The newspaper industry writes the expression as two words (copy editing) or hyphenates it (copy-editing), and the hyphenated form is probably the one most commonly used in Britain. Similarly, the term copy editor may be spelled as one word, two words, or hyphenated.
In British newspaper and magazine publishing (though not in book publishing), the job is generally called sub-editing or revise editing (The Times).
The copy editor's job may be summarized in the 5 Cs: to make the copy clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent. Copy editing typically entails correcting spelling, punctuation, grammatical and semantic errors; ensuring the typescript adheres to the publisher's house style; adding standardized headers, footers, headlines and so on. These elements must be addressed before the typesetter can prepare a final proof copy.
The copy editor is also expected to ensure the text flows well, that it makes sense and is fair and accurate, and that it will cause no legal problems for the publisher. Newspaper copy editors are sometimes responsible for choosing which wire copy the newspaper will use, and for rewriting it according to their house style.
In many cases, a copy editor will be the only person other than the author to read an entire text before publication. Newspaper editors often regard their copy editors as their newspaper's last line of defense.
A copy editor may abridge text, which is also called "cutting" or "trimming." This means reducing the length of a novel or article, either to fit broadcast or publishing limits, or to improve the material. This may involve simply omitting parts of the text, but sometimes it is necessary to rewrite uncut parts to account for missing details or plot. Some abridged texts are only slightly shorter, but others may be reduced dramatically, particularly when a literary classic is abridged for the children's market.
 Changes in the profession
Traditionally, a copy editor would read a printed or written text, such as a manuscript, marking it with handwritten proofreader's marks for correction. Nowadays, the text is usually read on a computer display and corrections are made directly to the text. Increasingly, a copy editor marks up the text using XML or a similar coding scheme and is involved in preparing text for online publication, not just for printing.
The spread of desktop publishing means that many copy editors perform design and layout work that was once left to production crews for printed publications. As a result, the skills needed for the job are shifting; technical knowledge is sometimes considered as important as writing ability, particularly within journalism as compared with book publishing.
 Traits, skills and training
Besides an excellent command of the language, copy editors need a broad general knowledge to spot factual errors, good critical-thinking skills so that they recognize inconsistencies, diplomatic skills to help them deal with writers, and a thick skin when diplomacy fails. They must also set priorities so they can balance striving for perfection with working deadlines.
Many copy editors have a college degree, often in journalism, English, or communications. Copy editing is often taught as a college journalism course, though the name of the course varies. News design and pagination are often taught in such classes.
In the United States, The Dow Jones Newspaper Fund sponsors internships that include two weeks of training. Also, midcareer training for newspaper copy editors and news editors (who supervise news copy desks) is offered at the American Press Institute, the Poynter Institute, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and conferences of the American Copy Editors Society.
Most U.S. newspapers and many other publishers give candidates for copy-editing jobs a test or a try-out. These vary widely and often include general items such as acronyms, current events, simple mathematics and punctuation, and skills such as Associated Press style, headline writing, infographics editing, and journalism ethics.
In the UK, training is available through university courses in publishing such as the one at Oxford Brookes University, alongside privately run seminars and correspondence courses operated by the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and a number of commercial centers.
 See also
- The Art of Editing, by Floyd K. Baskette, Jack Z. Sissors, and Brian S. Brooks
 External links
- Sub-editing style and directory
- Advice on freelance proofreading and copy-editing (UK)
- Copy Editor newsletter (USA)
- Proofreading practice at Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders
- Copyeditors' Knowledge Base
- American Copy Editors Society
- Society for Editors and Proofreaders (UK)
- Editors' Association of Canada
- Editorial Freelancers Association (USA)
- Newspaper copy editing
- Test examples for Dow Jones Newspaper Fund internships
- Test question examples, compiled by the American Copy Editors Society
- The Slot, includes What exactly is a copy editor? and How a copy desk works, by Bill Walsh of The Washington Post
- Testy Copy Editors Newspaper copy editors and their fans talk shop