How do editors format references?

When putting together an academic book or an edited collection, references can be a time-consuming challenge for all concerned.

Many academic authors use reference management software (e.g. Zotero, EndNote etc.) to format references. Editors and publishers, however, typically use different tools to help them with such work, including Edifix and macros.

Why don’t editors use software to format references?

Reference management software is often of little use to editors – especially in multi-authored collections where the authors have used different software or none at all. In short, many don’t bother, but a few do use Endnote.

When references have been formatted according to a specific style, the programme Edifix can ensure the bibliography is formatted correctly. This program checks both the formatting and available data on the reference across multiple databases. It is not that useful for more obscure works though, or when the authors have followed their own style rather than a recognized style such as Chicago, MLA, or similar. I found this out the hard way when one book’s referencing style minutely deviated from Chicago!

How do editors calculate a fee for reference formatting?

Academic copyeditors (including myself) typically charge for referencing separately and by the hour, as the work needed greatly depends on the text the author has provided. Some offer a rate per reference (often around one euro per reference).

Changing reference styles or reference formatting?

Changing referencing styles can be very messy. This is a separate job to reference formatting or checking. For the latter, the authors have already attempted to use a style correctly. Changing referencing styles can be really boring. The most tedious task would be to convert a footnote-style reference into a Harvard (Author, Date) style, or vice versa. This can be easily done using reference management software by the author, though. For this reason, I don’t offer this service.

When a text is messy, styling and formatting references can take as long as the language edit itself. Time and money can be saved here by getting into good habits early! You can use these tips to speed up the process.

While not all of the checks are completed all of the time, the full list – as I learnt on the CIEP References course – includes the following:

(1) The in-text references should be cross-checked with the references list. Every in-text reference should be in the reference list. Macros can help with this.

Note: Almost all publishers will add hyperlinks to connect in-text citations to your bibliography. They do this as part of the pre-editing process. This means that this step is not necessary when hiring an editor pre-submission.

(2) If using a footnote + bibliography referencing style, the footnotes should be checked against the in-text references.

(3) The in-text/footnote references should have their formatting checked. If using Harvard style (e.g. Smith 2000, 87), this can be done relatively quickly using macros/F&R routines.

(4) The reference list/bibliography should be formatted. As mentioned, there are programmes such as Edifix that can help with this, but any list still needs checking through.