Although copyediting and content editing are closely interrelated, and previously general meaning of editing included both notions, today we speak about them as about two separate processes. In small companies, there is usually only one editor who performs all the functions related to the editing process. In bigger companies, there are often a team of editors, and every member of the team performs particular functions.
So now we are going to speak in more detail about copy and content editing, who is engaged in this process, what for we need it, and so on. We will try to answer the questions that interest you the most. Of course, if there is any other question, feel free to contact us to clarify it.
Both notions are very close, but they also have their differences. Copyediting (another way to spell it as two words) is the process of checking a text for mistakes in spelling, use of capital letters, punctuation marks, tenses and other kinds of inaccuracies. Content editing, as you can see from the name itself, implies the revision of content, its factual accuracy.
Copyediting (another name is technical or simply “c”) is the analysis and correction of written data that is aimed at the increase of their accuracy, readability and suitability for their purposes, as well as to remove errors, inaccuracies, incoherence and repetitions. Speaking about texts in the press, checking should precede page making, and there is another checking before final revision that is usually a closing stage in the circle of editing.
They use the word “copy editor” to define a specialist who performs this job, in the USA and its North neighbor. A head copyeditor of an organization or a controlling editor of a group of other professionals is also called a chief editor, head editor or news editor. In Great Britain and other countries of the world that adhere to British standards, they use the notion “copyeditor”, on the other hand, in newspapers or magazine editions, they use “department editor” (or “editor assistant”) that is usually presented as “sub”. A head department editor is often called a chief department editor. If there is a prefix “sub”, it means that this kind of professionals have fewer responsibilities compared to ordinary editors.
If we speak about internet space, web copyediting is related to the texts of websites. It is close to print editing, i.e. on line copyediting is the process of checking unprocessed or project material of a web page and its correction with the goal to make it ready for publication.
There are three levels of copyediting: simple, standard and deep. Taking into consideration financial capabilities and publishing planning, a customer informs a specialist on a preferred level, according to which a text should be processed. A preferred kind of editing (simple, standard or deep) will help a copyeditor find the most suitable approach to work and focus on the most essential points.
Except for perfect language knowledge, a copyeditor needs to have an advanced knowledge of various subjects to notice factual mistakes, advanced skills of critical thinking to detect deviation or ambiguity. Communication skills are necessary to get along with the authors and other experts who have relation to this job. In addition, a specialist should be attentive to nuances, and also, subtleties of writing. Besides, a professional should be able to prioritize and balance one’s pursuit of excellence with the requirement to meet the deadline.
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A lot of copywriters often have a university degree in journalistic specialty, linguistics or social relations. In the USA, this profession is often provided by so-called journalistic college, however, the name can be different.
Most American newspapers and publishers employ potential copyeditors for a probation period, or they can test the candidates. The tests can be different but include common points such as the ways to shorten the words, current events, mathematics, punctuation points, also, the check of various skills such as the knowledge and use of specialized styles, writing title, information editing graphics and journalistic ethics.
However, neither in the USA nor in Great Britain there exist official institutions or authorities that offer an officially accepted qualification.
In Great Britain, there are several companies that offer specialized courses in this field but unofficially. Education can be got at work, attending courses and seminars conducted by private individuals, or taking an appropriate course provided by an authorized society.
In copyediting, they distinguish mechanic and basic kinds.
➤ Mechanic kind is the process of text creation with further editing, preserving a preferable style and grammatical rules of publication systematically in the whole content. In other words, we speak about orthography, commas and dashes, and also, reviewing of special components such as tables, diagrams, references formatting, etc.
➤ Basic kind, or content kind, implies checking and fixing material in terms of its structure and organization, in order to fix inner contradictions and divergence. This kind sometimes demands deep editing or even rewording in comparison with mechanic editing.
Additionally, copyediting may have different requirements for correction of punctuation and orthography in various states. For example, there are differences in British English and American English. Thus, there can be corrected such words as “neighbour” to “neighbor”, “favour” to “favor”, and so on.
Initially, a specialist was supposed to review a text using editor’s correction marks by hand. Nowadays, however, a text is usually read from a computer, and text refinement is made directly.
Almost total adoption of electronic systems for text improvement in all printed editions all over the globe also led the specialists to participation in the progress of technical aspects of their work. Technical knowledge, in such a way, is often considered as the ability essential for writing, on the other hand, it is related more to journalism rather than to book publishing.
In the era of the internet and information, content editing becomes more important than ever. When there is so much information and so many articles are being published every day, it is necessary to check content for factual mistakes, contradictions, inconsistencies, ambiguity, and so on. The internet has influenced and changed a lot of spheres of our life, in general.
The more web resources demand grows, the harder professionals try to satisfy increasing web consumption. Such a big competition led to a gradual decrease of editing quality, in other words, not sufficient correction of grammar mistakes and factual check.
Nonetheless, it does not mean that the web space restricts the duties of a specialist. The cybernetic epoch has brought us a lot of great achievements, among which there is the appearance of paginations that provide copyeditors with more control over the building and reviewing of their material.
Although, there are many programs, some specialists believe that their main functions and duties have not changed. Someone believes that technology has facilitated the check of factual data, and online programs (some popular social networks in particular) have also accelerated the speed of information collection. Other computer capabilities, for example, choosing pictures and optimizing search requests, help boost the efficiency of search, chiefly when one looks for keys in the titles.
Most likely, the World Wide Web will continue developing, but it should not influence general meaning of copyediting. Today it also seems tempting to leave alone proper text reviewing giving preference to convenience, but the reliability and quality-based nature of editor’s job should be preserved in any case. Various programs and software will be always updated, but it should not affect high-quality of specialist’s work. The formats of work also evolve, and it means that many specialists will always have some work to do.
Before the times of high technology, copyeditors preferred a red pen on a sheet of paper to point at the mistakes and inaccuracies using special editing signs that all the editors were aware of. A traditional editor used to fix grammatical aspects, orthography, punctuation, and other writing related points.
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The field of copyediting is not outdated. It is believed that these professionals are “innate” for web writing because, even if today you can publish almost any text, only copyeditors can make its content qualitative and credible.
So now, when checking, a copyeditor should also take into account multimedia elements of work. The insertion of graphic elements, optimization of search requests, and also, audio are just few of the elements that today have appeared and become an integral part of the web publications of copyeditors.
Web journalism provided many new roles for the professionals such as editing online. Web editing now demands from an editor to get acquainted with search optimization, to understand the language of hypertext markup, cascade table styles and RSS channels. In addition to web skills, modern copyeditors should also master a big set of skills that include knowledge and ability to work with program software, for example, Adobe Illustrator to create graphics or Adobe Dreamweaver to create web pages.
In general, editing is targeted at the detection and correction of all kinds of mistakes in a text. The main aim of content editing is to detect factual mistakes, inaccuracies in logic, incoherence of statements, improper use of words, and also, to fix the structure and composition of a text. It means that content editors, first and foremost, pay attention to the following points:
It often happens that writers, text authors do not have time to reread and fix their own texts. That is the reason for why professional editors are wanted and demanded. However, if you want to edit your writings on your own, you just need to insert editing into your working process. How to do it? It is easy – it all is about planning.
Whatever we do, if we want to do it well, we need to have a plan. With proper thinking and understanding of what, how and when we need to do, every business moves ahead as smoothly as possible. It is necessary to plan not only writing process but also every stage of work on a text that follows writing, including text reviewing and correction phases.
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