Copy editing focuses on achieving accuracy, consistency and coherence in a document. It is the phase which takes place after substantive or structural editing - in which a document may be restructured or reworded significantly - and before proofreading.
A copy editor must remove mistakes to do with spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. Consistency of style and language must be maintained, and sometimes copy editing will involve condensing or abridging a document, also known as cutting or trimming. Inconsistencies in layout must also be amended, including errors in the headers, footers or headlines. These inconsistencies must be corrected before the typesetter can print off a final proof copy to be proofread. At this stage, this would include resolving editing queries with either the author or publisher.
Copy editors must correct errors concerning the text as a whole, including any references, illustrations, tables, sequences, links or prematter. They also need to check for manuscript completeness, and are generally given an "order of book" by the publishing house to check that the entire document is present. In order to copy edit a book according to the publishing house style, a copy editor will often be given a house style guide.
In the past copy editing was done on a written or printed document (or hard copy) but with the increase of online publications, copy editors now often edit on computer (electronic copy). This involves marking up the copy electronically and using tools like track changes.
Variations in terminology
A 'copy editor' may also be referred to as a 'copy-editor' or 'copyeditor'. 'Copy editors' can be 'copy editor' or 'copy-editors'.
'Copy editing' can also be written as 'copy-editing' or 'copyediting'.
Designer: Alinta Thornton