Subversive Copy Editor: Random Advice for Copyeditor Newbies


If you’re new to copyediting, consider these snippets of advice. (Be sure to check with your supervisor if any of them contradict your usual instructions.)

  • Don’t query a word or spelling or locution without looking it up. If a writer uses an unfamiliar word or spelling more than once, it’s very possibly intended. It’s easy to paste “eat one’s cake and have it, too” into a search engine and learn that the writer doesn’t have it backward.

  • Don’t waste a writer’s time by continually asking for approval. (“Okay? If you don’t like this, I can put it back.”) Rather, indicate your flexibility in the cover letter. On the manuscript, use queries for giving or asking for information.

  • Save grief later by e-mailing the author before you make editing decisions that are hard to undo. (“Re romantic/Romantic: do you have a system for capping? Should I meddle?”)

  • Don’t track changes that will be invisible or confusing on a black-and-white printout, such as deletions of hyphens.* If the editing is difficult to read, the writer won’t easily see that the results read well.

  • Be conservative in editing until you have more experience. You should be ready to explain every mark you put on the page.

  • Remember the copyeditor’s creed: First, do no harm.

Source: http://www.subversivecopyeditor.com/blog/2...