This informal CPD article on Our Top Tips for Copy-Editing: Part 1 was provided by the London School of Publishing (LSP) who offer a range of training courses to suit the needs of their delegates, whether it be day or evening training.
Copy-Editing is the challenging and often frustrating process of revising written content to improve its readability. Copy-editing requires high levels of attention to detail, knowledge on a wide range of areas and the ability to efficiently communicate the reason for making changes.
The 'copy' could be from any area of writing, from fiction books to news articles and even advertising. Whilst the role itself involves evaluating style consistency, text continuity, grammar and punctuation.
Sounds complicated, right? Well, here are some top tips to help you copy-edit your own and others' works.
Top Tips for Copy-Editing
- You should complete an entire reading of the copy before making any edits to better understand the context and positioning of the content. This knowledge will help you make quicker and more accurate decisions when you start to edit.
- If you are working for a client, ensure that you establish their wants and needs at the start of the process and continue to communicate throughout, seeking clarification when/if needed. You should make notes of your edits as you go along. Most word processors now have automatic tracking tools to make this easier. This record of changes can prove to be a useful reference point later on.
- Remember your role is to edit mistakes and not to rewrite the content. If you feel that there needs to be substantial edits then relay this to the author.
- Consistency is key when editing. Irregularities in style/form can distract and irritate your audience so you should look for consistency when it comes to things such as spelling, contractions, dates and punctuation. You should also ensure there is regularity where possible in regard to the voice and tense used.
- Repetition in your writing, such as using the same word or phrase within the same sentence or frequently within a piece, can seem amateurish and lazy. Where possible, you should look for simple alternatives to add variety to the writing.
- Editing can be mentally taxing so if you are feeling fatigued you should take a break and come back to the work. This break will allow you to take a fresher look at the writing. If you are time-constrained, then a useful trick is to read the copy backwards sentence by sentence.
- When a piece of work is your own it is important to detach yourself from it. If you are emotionally attached to a piece then you are less likely to listen to other people's opinions and are less likely to make needed changes. If you struggle with editing and deleting portions of your writing, then you can cut and paste your work to another document for later use.
We hope this article on Our Top Tips for Copy-Editing: Part 1 was helpful. For more information from London School of Publishing, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.