October 24, 2017

Copy Editing Resources


Guides, Rates, and Articles

Download the Professional Editorial Standards document.

See the Editorial Freelancers Association for their chart of rates.

See Alicia Dunams, “How Much Should a Book Editor Charge?”

Blog: Nonfiction Book Editing — My Proposal Needs Improvement?

What goes into editing a manuscript? How much should you pay?

The Editors’ Association of Canada (EAC)

The EAC offers excellent definitions and descriptions of copy editing in its “Professional Editorial Standards.”Most authors start at the other end. Grammar and spell checkers can flag and correct many errors, they note, so why would I as an author need editing services? Because clarity of meaning often requires well-chosen words placed precisely.

Copy editing is often distinguished among several types:

Structural and Stylistic Editing

Here an editor assesses “the overall organization and composition of the material as to its suitability for the intended audience, medium, market, and purpose” (B1).*

Structural editing is also known as development editing, in which sentences and paragraphs are moved (or removed) and new materials crafted for the document. “Structural editing is assessing and shaping material to improve its organization and content” often by reorganize it “to achieve a coherent structure and sequence, a logical progression of ideas, and a narrative or expository flow and shape appropriate to the audience, medium, and purpose…”(B2).

Stylistic editing, also known as heavy editing, improves sentence construction to more effectively convey meaning. For example, the editor may create subordinate structures for subordinate ideas, choosing active voice over passive, improve word choice to more effectively convey meaning, eliminate clichés and euphemisms, and so on (C)

Copy Editing and Proofing

Copy editing is editing to ensure correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness” (D1-18).

  • Correctness includes implementing the publisher’s rules of grammar, principles of punctuation, and correcting errors in spelling and usage.
  • Consistency means applying the editorial style (often called “the [publishing] house’s style manual”)
  • Accuracy targets identifying and querying items that the author needs to check for accuracy, such as names of people and places, titles, quotations, web links.
  • Completeness ensures that missing elements are flagged and missing citations are queried to the author.

Proofing “is examining material after layout to correct errors in textual and visual elements.” This not about improving the work, but about making the final text flowed (or typeset) document congruent with the final copy edited document.

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