All of us, including editors, benefit from having someone else review our work. A poorly edited document or website reflects negatively on its content and inconveniences readers as they stumble over unclear, error-filled passages.
So familiar are we with our own writing that we easily skip over typos, repeated or missing words, or formatting problems. Word processing software provides numerous tools to help us self-edit, but they fail to alert us, for example, when we write for instead of from or misspell a person's name. Moreover, grammar checkers often judge correct text to be incorrect and suggest unsound grammar and style changes.
As an advocate for both you and your readers, I will help you present your absolute best work while preserving your individual voice, message, and writing style. Working methodically and meticulously, I review all text at least twice and double-check any revisions I make.
Holly Alexander is an excellent editor. She makes good catches, asks thoughtful questions, and works quickly. Our prose is clearer, more consistent, and more concise thanks to her efforts.
—Gretchen K., copy desk manager, professional association
The level of copyediting required will vary from text to text, but listed below are the essential actions I perform on every copyediting project:
- Adhere to house style or to a style guide such as Chicago (The Chicago Manual of Style), APA (American Psychological Associaton), or AP (Associated Press)
- Create a style sheet to document editing decisions not covered in the authorized style guide
- Correct errors in grammar, spelling, syntax, word usage, hyphenation, and punctuation
- Flag unclear, wordy, or awkward passages and suggest revisions
- Note repeated words and phrases and suggest revisions
- Check cross-references
- Ensure consistent formatting throughout each section, including the table of contents, chapter titles and headings, lists, citations, and references
- Verify URLs and proper names
- Point out possible factual discrepancies in the main text and bibliography/notes (but not fact-check the entire document)
- Identify elements that may need permission to reprint
- Review all tables, figures, and equations, and make sure all numbers match those in the corresponding main text
- Typecode the manuscript for production and prepare a glossary of key terms, if requested
When copyediting documents in Microsoft Word, I use the Track Changes feature, which enables the author to accept or reject any change I make and to view and respond to my comments and questions.
Proofreading is usually performed at the end of the production process to catch mistakes either overlooked during the editing phase or introduced during the design phase. As I proofread the text, I complete the following steps:
- Check grammar, spelling, hyphenation, and punctuation
- Ensure that the text contains all editorial revisions
- Identify alignment or formatting problems
- Review the table of contents for accuracy and completeness
- Check cross-references
- Point out bad line, paragraph, or page breaks
- Verify page numbers and running heads
- Check placement of illustrations and tables
I proofread text on paper, in Microsoft Word, and in Adobe Acrobat Pro.