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Copyediting Services

Produce high-quality copy with the help of a copyediting service.

A good copy editor possesses experience, attention to detail and common sense. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
A good copy editor possesses experience, attention to detail and common sense.

Copyediting services provide small- to mid-sized businesses with the professional word-smithing skills they may not possess in-house. Hiring a copy editor on an "as-needed" basis to put the final touches on an important project, document or advertising copy can be a wise investment. Professional copyeditors remove error and irrelevance while untangling "twisted prose," as one New York Times writer described it. A copy editor can help companies demonstrate to clients or potential clients that professional, high-quality work is one of the business' core values.

Copyediting Defined

A copy editor reviews and revises writing produced by other writers -- most often in a newspaper, magazine, marketing or advertising role. Copy editors may check facts and revise a piece of writing to ensure that it has the right content, grammar and style. They revise wording to achieve greater clarity and accuracy while preserving the writer's voice. Copy editors may provide substantive revisions, unlike proofreaders who typically focus on typographical errors and grammatical problems as they review documents just prior to printing. Copy editors work with a draft of a document early on in the editing process; proofreaders sometimes review it after everyone else for one final check.

Copywriters, who are also often hired by businesses, have a very different role from copy editors. Copywriters create ads, direct mail letters, brochures and others items for the marketing of goods or services. Copywriters produce advertising copy that copy editors could be called upon to review.

In some business settings, copy editors differ from editors in that they are not involved in other aspects of publishing such as initial content planning for a publication, selection of material for publication, or production duties. Editors may be more likely to send a document back to the author if revisions are needed, whereas copy editors may do the rewriting themselves, consulting with the writers for clarification as needed.

When to Hire a Copy Editor

Small- to mid-sized businesses that do not have enough work for a full-time copy editor may choose to hire a copy editor for special projects as needed. When precision and quality are top priority -- when a document really needs to shine -- then the services of a professional copy editor may prove to be quite useful. A copy editor can help ensure consistency within one or more documents, create a seamless piece out of the work of different writers and make sure grammar, punctuation and word usage are correct.

Copyediting services often are sought when a fresh set of eyes is needed, when greater clarity is desired or when the project involves providing technical information to a non-technical audience. If a document is intended for a global audience, then a globalization copy editor can provide invaluable assistance in eliminating ambiguity and conforming to international publishing standards.

How to Hire a Copy Editor

A good copy editor possesses experience, attention to detail and common sense, as well as curiosity and creativity, according to the Poynter Institute. To locate a professional copy editor, businesses may consider searching for candidates through a professional organization of copy editors or administering a copyediting test as a part of the screening process.

Professional organizations of copy editors include the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors, which offers a free copy editor search feature and The American Copy Editors Society (ACES). The publishers of Copyediting newsletter have a database of copy editor subscribers. Such organizations tend to attract experienced, credible professionals who are interested in staying current in their field.

Some colleges and universities, professional organizations and private companies grant copyediting certification. The rigor of certification programs varies and so it is advisable for the employer to check on the reputation of the certification-granting institution.

An online search may yield editing tests that could be used for screening clients but many of the free copyediting tests available online are news-focused. It may be more valuable to provide candidates with a document that is similar in content to the actual work that needs to be done. An early draft of an edited document could serve this purpose. As with hiring any professional, interviewing the references provided and reviewing samples of previous work can also yield clues as to whether an individual possesses the necessary skills for the job.

Copyediting in the Digital Age

The role of the copy editor has evolved as online publication has increased. For Web-based projects, a copy editor must have all the traditional skills of the trade, as well as familiarity with Web-based technology and common publication software. Impeccable grammar, spelling and punctuation, appropriate headings and relevant graphics on a company Web site are just as important for maintaining the business's credibility and professionalism as high-quality printed materials.

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