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Importance and Role of Copyediting


Rumki Sen


When one is in a creative state, rarely can one also be in a detail state. Thus, mistakes in correct grammar, spelling and continuity of all details may happen. Copyediting process involves reading the content for English grammar, spelling, story, flow and understandability. It also involves checking consistency in visual design, testing links, and ensuring accurate reading.

Steps involved in Copyediting:

1) Looking the content from the reader's point of view:

Reading the story completely through the first time, without marking or changing anything. There shouldn't be a mark or change on a piece of copy while reading the story for the first time until it has been read once - from start to finish. That's the way the reader is going to read the story, and that's the way the copy editor should read it, too.

2) Looking for answers:

When editing a story for the first time, looking for answers to the following questions is important:
Is this a complete story? Does it consist of important facts? Does it give all of the necessary information to the reader? Are the quotes interesting? Any information or necessary quotations are missing? Are there "holes" in the story? Does the writer omit information on the assumption that the reader already knows it? Does the story read smoothly? Does the information flow from one paragraph to the next? Do the quotes add to and support the previous information? Are the facts and quotes in descending order of importance?

3) Reading for grammar, spelling and style:

Check for subject-verb agreement, Sentence fragments, Run-on sentences and other obvious grammatical errors. In case of checking spelling errors, read what is actually on the page, not what you think is there. Also, check for consistency in style. Whether large or small, companies need to have a style guide as it establishes standards of writing. Web pages, letters, e-mails, e-newsletters, manuals, and more, benefit from a style guide to maintain consistency. Always, have a style guide ready in hand.

4) Checking punctuation and use of quotation marks:

Punctuation error is the most common mistake people tend to make. There are various books available on correct punctuation. If you are not confident in case of punctuation, get a book for your guidance.

5) Making sure names are spelled correctly:

The single most important mistake is the misspelling of names. Going to whatever length needed to see that names and titles are correct is important.

Editing Online Sites or Documents:

The online editorial process is not complete without copyediting and proofreading. These processes are much the same for online documents and print media - checking for correctness (spelling, grammar, and punctuation), consistency of capitalization and other mechanics, accuracy of information, and completeness.

Tips for copyediting online sites or documents:

1) Create consistent text formatting:

Check whether the overall "look" of text on a page presents any obvious problems with various common fonts and type sizes. Using a style sheet and template throughout the editorial process can encourage consistency in font, type size, and spacing. At this stage of the process, basic HTML skills are very valuable to the online editor in order to go into the HTML document and make minor changes directly, if required. 

2) Watch out for arbitrary shifts in color:

Color can enhance comprehension or it can make the document look confusing or cluttered. If link colors are specified in your HTML document, check that these colors are applied consistently throughout the work. Do all links not yet followed appear in the same color? Do all links previously visited appear in the same color? Do different link colors indicate different types of links - and is this made clear to the reader?

3) See that all links lead where they promise:

It's always a good idea to manually check all or most links to ensure that they not only work, but in fact lead to the correct destination.

4) Ensure that text is readable:

Check the small words, avoid "over abbreviation", use only standard, easily read symbols etc.

5) Check that identifying information is present and consistent:

A copyright statement, name and e-mail address (as a mailto link) of the site's Webmaster etc.

6) Make sure the text is optimized for search engine rankings:

Check whether META tags (for description and keywords), Title tag and Image Alt tag have been used appropriately for the website content. Your text should also contain the main and relative keywords for your online content. This will make the audience find your content on the Internet.

The responsibility of the copyeditor is to catch EVERY mistake possible. It is a big responsibility!

The basic processes are much the same for online documents and print media - checking for correctness (spelling, grammar, and punctuation), consistency of capitalization and other mechanics, accuracy of information, and completeness. Creating consistent text formatting, checking consistency in visual design, testing for proper working of website links, knowledge of HTML and its application (when required) are the additional responsibilities for an online editor.

 


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