Five Keys to Copyediting

Owen Salter is the founder of Barnabas Editorial Services and Training, and a freelance editor and writer with over 35 years of experience. He has conducted editor and writer training for MAI since 2005 and is an MAI-Asia trustee.

Arthur Plotnik, a well-known American author and editor, once said to writers, “You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what’s burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke.”

The three main kinds of editing:
1. Developmental editing: developing the manuscript.
2. Substantive editing: dealing with big picture issues, such as the organizational structure and relevancy of content.
3. Copy editing: checking the fine details of the copy, line by line.

Learn the five keys of successful copy editing:
1. Polish the text. Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, sentence and paragraph structure.
2. Ensure consistency and accuracy. Apply the publisher’s house style- Scripture references, how to dates are written, etc. Make sure the internal details match, such as the chapter titles match the titles listed on the contents page.
3. Organize the presentation. Check headings, sub-headings, call-out boxes, captions, contents pages, and more. 
4. Attend to technical matters. Style or format appropriately. Prepare a list of spelling and other style issues for a proofreader.
5. Handle administrative matters. Find ISBN numbers, deal with copyright issues, permissions and any questions. Communicate with a senior editor regarding any problems such as plagiarism or legal issues.

A copy editor is a servant to make sure the manuscript is the best it can possibly be.

This video was shot by Team David Films at MAI’s international publishing conference, LittWorld 2015, in Singapore.

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