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Editing & Proofreading

Distilled To Perfection

The primary aim of editing — also known as copyediting — and proofing is to have an error-free publication. Nothing detracts from a message more than the prevalence of errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, inconsistency in titling and numbering, or simply incorrect information.

To achieve the goal of 100% accuracy, a copyeditor is the author's second pair of eyes, scanning and correcting even the smallest discrepancies.

In certain projects a third pair of eyes is sometimes required. This is especially the case for long pieces of writing and web content. Copyediting is a lengthy, focused task that requires a special breed of people.

These people have the ability to read the same piece of work over and over again and appreciate the content from a different angle every time. This is because copyediting has several levels of criteria to meet, and every level must be approached with integrity and a total disregard for shortcuts.

Copyediting seems like a task that anyone can do as long as the person has a basic education in the language. This is simply not true. Like any field worth exploring in full, copyediting and proofing require specialist training and years of practice.

To be a great copyeditor also requires in-depth knowledge of the different forms of copyediting. A copyeditor never interferes with the author's work.

He or she only edits the content without affecting the integrity of the content's message. Such editing is usually done in three processes. Mechanical editing is the heart of copyediting and conforms to the organization's house style. This style includes editing for spelling, capitalization, hyphenation, use of italics, bold, and underline, treatment of graphical information, consistency in captioning, and formatting footnotes.

Language editing is the application of editing expertise to grammar, diction, and the proper use of syntax. Consistency is again key. Content editing is the scrutiny of facts and the identification of discrepancies.

If the author has made a factual error (e.g. the capital of Brazil is Rio de Janeiro) it is the job of the content editor to highlight this error. (the correct answer is Brasilia). Utilized properly, a copyeditor can lend the desired qualities of polish and credibility to publications that are consequently accepted and treated with the highest regard by the author's desired target market.