What is copyediting?
To quote the SfEP: “… the copy-editor corrects errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, style and usage, but also very long sentences and overuse of italic, bold, capitals, exclamation marks and the passive voice. They correct or query doubtful facts, weak arguments, plot holes and gaps in numbering”.
It also includes:
- Working on raw / draft text.
- Improving the flow and tone for the intended readership.
- Ensuring a consistent style – of spellings, punctuation and hyphenation, particularly – and following a style guide, if supplied.
- Formatting references and citations.
- Numbering tables, figures and illustrations; checking content against text and captions.
- Querying obvious factual inaccuracies.
- Flagging potential legal issues.
Please note: the above list is not exhaustive.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the quality check and tidy-up of written material prior to publication. To paraphrase the SfEP, a proofreader will:
- Check page numbers and headings.
- Check the table of contents against chapter titles, page numbers and endmatter – appendices, index, etc.
- Ensure a consistent style – of spellings, punctuation and hyphenation, particularly – and follow a style guide, if supplied.
- Watch out for omissions and inconsistencies in typography, layout and content.
- Judge the need for changes in view of the budget and schedule. Changing just one word can have drastic knock-on effects.
- Check or insert cross-references where appropriate.
- Eliminate inelegant or confusing word, column and page breaks, including ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’ – short last or first lines of a paragraph at the top or the bottom of a page, respectively.
- Ensure that illustrations, captions and labels correspond with each other and with the text.
- Check that content looks right and is logically arranged.
Please note: the above list is not exhaustive.
What is proofediting?
Proofediting is a combination of copyediting and proofreading carried out at the same time. It is a compromise between undertaking each stage separately, but for many clients this is perfectly acceptable (e.g. non-native English speaking students).
Who is your service for?
In short, anyone with written material: publishers, businesses, academia, independent authors, charities, the public sector, etc.
Written material could include printed publications, corporate reports, research papers, features and articles, sales and marketing brochures, newsletters, journals, and web content, for example.
Why can’t I just check my own work?
Reading your own work thoroughly is certainly a good idea, but the author is usually too familiar with the content to objectively review it. In a battle between what the brain expects to read and what the eyes actually see, it is usually the brain that wins.
Also, spelling and grammar checking software is far from infallible and can fail to spot a multitude of errors and inconsistencies that a professional editor will identify.
Do you only work with science and engineering documents?
No. I offer a service for most subjects, although I specialise in science and engineering and can provide particular expertise in environmental matters. However, editing skills are transferable to any subject matter; prior knowledge of a subject often helps but isn’t always essential.
Will my document be perfect after it has been edited?
Probably not. Apart from being highly subjective, creating perfection is likely to be very time-consuming and therefore very expensive.
At the end of the process, however, you should be reassured that your material does not contain any glaring errors or inconsistencies, and most readers will be able to read (and understand) it without issue.
How exactly will you edit, or mark up, my document?
This generally depends on the format of the document itself, but the output can be tailored to your individual requirements.
Microsoft Word documents can be edited with ‘Track Changes’ switched on, allowing you to review and accept or reject amendments. Alternatively, on PDF documents the suggested amendments can be marked using BS 5261C:2005 symbols or the Adobe Comment tools (N.B. these methods do not actually change the source text; you will need to apply these changes yourself to the original document). Finally, hard (paper) copies are usually marked up using BS 5261C:2005 symbols, although other arrangements can be made if necessary.
What are your rates?
Prices will vary depending on the complexity of the document and also the level of service required. As a guideline, the SfEP has provided suggested minimum rates. A fixed price quotation is usually given for a piece of work, but a rate per hour, or per thousand words, etc, can be calculated if required.
Please contact me for a quote or to discuss your requirements. To enable a quote to be rapidly returned to you, please send a representative sample of the text (e.g. 1000–2000 words or the first chapter) and state the total word count of the entire document.
How can I pay?
For clients based in the UK, payment is preferred by BACS bank transfer. Other methods of payment may be arranged with prior agreement.
How do I get in touch?
Simple – click here!