Copy editing is the most basic, and, in some ways, most essential level of revising: without it, publishers may reject your manuscript outright. There are three broad categories of copy editing tasks and three levels or degrees of work required to fulfill them. After I have looked over your manuscript and done a sample edit, we will discuss which categories of tasks your text needs, which ones you want me to address, and the degree of work required.
The main categories of copy editing tasks for academic texts are:
- correcting errors in spelling, grammar, syntax, usage, and punctuation
- formatting the text to conform to a publisher’s or institution’s style guidelines
- cross-checking citations in the text against the entries in the bibliography to make sure they correlate with each other
The levels of work required to accomplish these tasks are:
- light copy editing: for a manuscript that has few errors, needs little formatting, and/or may be missing some information within bibliographic entries but does not need the list cross-checked against the citations
- medium copy editing: for a manuscript that has a moderate number of errors, needs a moderate degree of formatting, and/or needs citations cross-checked against the bibliography, both of which need some gaps filled in
- heavy copy editing: for a manuscript that requires extensive corrections of errors, needs a high degree of formatting for publishers with detailed style guides, and/or has many citations or bibliographic entries that are missing or incomplete
Copy editing is sometimes erroneously called “proofreading,” which is actually a different editorial task that takes place right before printing or publishing a text. Proofing involves comparing the page proofs (the typeset pages after layout is complete) against the version delivered to the typesetter to make sure no errors were overlooked or introduced during layout. This is not a service I offer, but I would be happy to recommend some trusted proofreaders if you need such work.
Although each academic publisher has its own style sheet that must be followed when copy editing a text for publication, these guidelines are usually variants of one of only a few major academic style manuals. I am thoroughly versed in the Chicago Manual of Style, including both of its citation systems (the author-date system and the note-bibliography system). If time permits, I am sometimes willing to work with the style manuals of the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Modern Languages Association (MLA). When we discuss specifics of your publication aims, please let me know which style manual is used by the journal or press where you want to publish, as well as the web address of its instructions for authors. This way we can save time and cost from the start of the editing process.