Defining Your Copyediting Needs

July 1998
by Lana R. Castle, Castle Communications

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In the April issue of this newsletter, Curt Matthews mentioned the need for independent publishers to pay more attention to editorial concerns. While “big picture issues” such as content and structure are vitally important, we shouldn’t disregard the “picky little details” of a thorough copyedit. Publishers who rely solely on a grammar-check and spell-check take a big risk. Computers aren’t that smart about consistency and context. A solid copyedit is worth the investment because a handful of errors can destroy credibility. The term copyedit means different things to different people. Many clients who turn over a job say, “All it needs is a copyedit.” I’ve heard these words used about everything from a 900-page manuscript needing extensive permissions and a major rewrite, to a polished document needing only a quick proof. The first step toward a solid copyedit is to define your expectations and to communicate them clearly. This is especially important when you rely on freelance editors. But it’s also helpful when you’re editing yourself. I split the editing process into three phases: (1) developmental or substantive editing, (2) copyediting, and (3) production editing. While this article focuses on copyediting, a brief description of the other two phases puts copyediting in perspective. Not every editor approaches the process the same way. They may perform some steps during other phases, or steps may overlap. What’s most important is that you clarify which steps h…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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