Your text might need copyediting, proofreading or proof-editing. Copyediting and proofreading can be seen as distinct processes, with copyediting preparing the text for the final proofread, whereas proof-editing is a combination of the two. The choice of service you need depends on the condition of the text itself and the purpose of the final version.
You may know what your text needs already, but if you’re not sure which service you require, the descriptions below might help you decide. I can also offer suggestions to help you choose. Contact me and upload your work, and we can discuss options so that you can be confident you’re making the right choice for your needs.
Copyediting (sometimes called ‘line editing’, or simply ‘editing’) involves refining a piece of writing to prepare it for typesetting and final proofreading. It addresses issues of structure, sentence flow, style and consistency. This stage of editing smooths the text for maximum accuracy and readability. Copyediting can involve some or all of the following:
- Ensuring consistency in style and standardising presentation
- Reorganising text and improving sentence-to-sentence flow and logic
- Correcting errors and inconsistencies in word use, spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Rewording for clarity and coherence
- Avoiding repetition and redundancy
- Checking facts, cross-referencing and appropriateness
- Working with the author to resolve ambiguities
- Compiling a style sheet to record editing decisions and ensure consistency
- Coding special features of the text for typesetting, indicating position and presentation
Proofreading a text is usually the final quality control stage of the editing process. It provides the final polish to an already edited piece so that the final product looks professional and reads well. Proofreading ensures accuracy and eliminates distracting errors. It works mainly at the micro-level to correct slips and inconsistencies that have been either missed or introduced in previous editing and design phases, while also attending to formatting and layout issues. Proofreading can involve some or all of the following:
- Correcting spelling, grammar and punctuation errors and typos
- Ensuring consistency in language, style and punctuation
- Addressing presentation and formatting issues related to layout, positioning, design and graphics
- Checking lists, numbering, headings, footers, titles and page numbers are consistent and accurate
- Making sure cross-referencing is accurate
Proof-editing (or ‘heavy proofreading’) can be seen as a combination of editing and proofreading. It may be that the text does not need to go through a full editing process before a final proofread, but it still requires substantial changes. For example, words may need to be cut to fit a prescribed word count, or the syntax and word choice may need significant reworking because the text was written in a second language. Proof-editing may be an appropriate choice for shorter texts such as webpages, or for writers seeking additional input into their language usage and the coherence of their texts.
How I work
When copyediting or proof-editing, I work on the document in Microsoft Word using Track Changes. When proofreading, I’m happy to work on a Word document or on a PDF using markup tools or BSI marks. I can also work on Google Docs if required.
During the process I might raise queries for the author in order to resolve inconsistencies and ambiguities before the final proofread can take place.
Once I have finalised the changes, I’ll email you the final version.
At all times, I closely follow the standards of best practice in editorial work and professional relationships set out in CIEP’s Code of Practice.