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What is Copy Editing?

Copy editing is a process that ensures that text is correct in terms of spelling, grammar, jargon, punctuation, terminology, semantics and formatting. Copy editing also ensures that the idea the writer wishes to portray is clear and easy to understand. They make sure any factual data in the text is accurate and that any potential legal issues are brought to the publisher’s attention.


What do copy editors do?

Copy editors will check a piece of writing to see how it flows and make sure it is sensible and fair. They will also change the length of the text to make it acceptable to the publisher’s house-style of formatting.

Copy editors may also be responsible for adding headers, headlines, footnotes and photo-captions.

The text will be passed to a proofreader for the final checking once the copy editing process has been completed.

Skills a copy editor needs

Copy editors require a number of skills, including an excellent command of the language, an ability to identify factual errors, an eye for detail and critical thinking skills that allow them to see inconsistencies in the work. They also need excellent interpersonal skills so that they can communicate effectively with publishers and other editors.

In reality copy editing is a vague term that varies from employer to employer. So, some copy editors may be expected to carry out all the functions described above and others may only fulfil a few of these duties.

Copy editors are also referred to as sub-editors in the magazine and newspaper industry.


If you'd like to be a copy editor request a free Proofreading and Copy Editing course prospectus with no obligation to enrol.


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Carol Browne"I am an English honours graduate but even so I discovered that my grammar was not as perfect as I had believed! After completing the Proofreading and Copy Editing course I set myself up as a part-time freelance proofreader with a small band of regular clients"

Carol Browne


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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