Copy Editing: Wikipedia.orgCopy editing (also written as copy-editing or copyediting, and sometimes abbreviated to ce) is the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text. Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the substance of the text. Copy refers to written or typewritten text for typesetting, printing, or publication. Copy editing is done before both typesetting and proofreading, the latter of which is the last step in the editorial cycle.
In the U.S. and Canada, an editor who does this work is called a copy editor, and an organization's highest-ranking copy editor, or the supervising editor of a group of copy editors, may be known as the copy chief, copy desk chief, or news editor. In book publishing in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world that follow British nomenclature, the term copy editor is used, but in newspaper and magazine publishing, the term is sub-editor (or the unhyphenated subeditor), commonly shortened to sub. The senior sub-editor on a title is frequently called the chief sub-editor. As the "sub" prefix suggests, British copy editors typically have less authority than regular editors.
OverviewThe "five Cs" summarize the copy editor's job: Make the copy clear, correct, concise, complete, and consistent. Copy editors should make it say what it means, and mean what it says.
Typically, copy editing involves correcting spelling, punctuation, grammar, terminology, jargon, and semantics, and ensuring that the text adheres to the publisher's style or an external style guide, such as the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook. Copy editors may shorten the text, to improve it or to fit length limits. This is particularly so in periodical publishing, where copy must be cut to fit a particular layout, and the text changed to ensure there are no "short lines".
Often, copy editors are also responsible for adding any "display copy", such as headlines, standardized headers and footers, and photo captions. And, although proofreading is a distinct task from copy editing, frequently it is one of the tasks performed by copy editors.
Copy editors are expected to ensure that the text flows, that it is sensible, fair, and accurate, and that any legal problems have been addressed. If a passage is unclear or an assertion seems questionable, the copy editor may ask the writer to clarify it. Sometimes, the copy editor is the only person, other than the writer, to read an entire text before publication and, for this reason, newspaper copy editors are considered the publication's last line of defense.
The role of the copy editor varies considerably from one publication to another. Some newspaper copy editors select stories from wire service copy; others use desktop publishing software to do design and layout work that once was the province of design and production specialists.
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