Copyediting from start to finish

In today’s blog post I will cover the workflow I use for copyediting. This will give you an overview of the process and the tools that I use. The information here is for short- and medium-sized jobs (up to roughly 30,000 words). The information is geared towards academic copyediting, my main specialism, but much of it will also apply to other kinds of documents. For large jobs, such as book projects, I will write a more detailed project brief and style sheet.

Click here for the style sheet

  • First, I will ask you to fill in your style preferences (e.g. UK/US spelling; -ise/-ize endings), via this form. The options are basic, but you can add any extra details you wish in the final section. I will also ask you if there is a specific style guide you would like me to follow (e.g. the Chicago Manual of Style) for all other decisions.
  • Next, I will run a macro (something like a miniature computer program) called DocAlyse to analyse your document. This will help me make other style decisions, such as the use of – em dashes – or – spaced en dashes – in your text.
  • I will then prepare your document for pre-editing. If necessary, I will make use of Word Styles, before using editing software (PerfectIt and the Editors’ Toolkit) to ensure consistency in line with the style sheet. I will also run a spellcheck at this stage. There are some other macros I often use here to improve my accuracy, such as CompareWordList to highlight issues that the spellchecker does not see. This includes common errors such as form/from, causal/casual.
  • The text is then ready for the main edit. I make one pass through the entire text. After this pass I run PerfectIt again to pick up any remaining inconsistencies and I may run some more macros, if necessary, to pick up on other inconsistencies (e.g. in names mentioned in the text).
  •  For medium edits (my standard service), this is followed up – preferably at least a day later – by a read through to check my work. Even the best editors miss a small number of errors and this second check through helps improve my accuracy.
  • Finally, I will send you the copyedited text to check through. There will likely be several author queries (questions or comments to the author), whenever a word, phrase or sentence is unclear. If you have any other questions at this stage or would like me to reread any sections, I ask you to send a copy of the manuscript with the sections highlighted. I ask you to reply to all the author queries and other questions/text to be read again in a single email, as I am usually busy and cannot respond to several emails with different questions.

For larger jobs, such as monographs, most of the workflow is the same as above, but I will work with you to put together a more detailed style sheet and project brief at the start, and I will permit two or three rounds of queries at the end. The project brief may also include formatting references (typically charged separately – see this explainer). If the job you require involves formatting references, I will complete this at the start, before the main edit.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch!