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What is copy editing: meaning and basic principles

Anyone who wants to achieve success in any career is simply obliged to be able to communicate, write correctly, know the basics of writing business letters, navigate the scientific vocabulary, and be able to write reports with a clear structure. It is academic writing that helps to learn to think correctly and speak beautifully. That is why in all schools and universities of the United States, special attention is paid to the development of academic writing skills.

Among the most common types of academic writing note, a report, a project, a dissertation, and an essay. Publication of a scientific article in a prestigious international journal, abstract of a report of an international conference, course work, essay, any of these issues is solved with the help of academic writing.

Academic writing is a type of assignment that reflects the skills of thinking, argumentation, analysis, and demonstrates how well a student understands the basic material of the course, and how much additional work was done by researching and analyzing a specific topic. Writing such works is a long and laborious process that requires concentration and involves sequential steps that help structure thoughts and allow you to achieve maximum effect. And the main assistants of writing such types of work are the copy editing of the text and the copy editor.

copy editing

COPY EDITING: what is it?

Copy editing is the process of working on text that is being prepared for publication, which includes checking, correcting and processing the text. They say that the copy editor should protect the writer from his/her own mistakes. It is quite natural that there may be typos and even spelling errors in the text. That is why it is so necessary for the work to be read by an outsider who’s specialized in finding errors and correcting them. A good copy editor has enough experience and knowledge, and he/she knows what to look for, and knows how to recognize typical places of error.

What does a copy editor do? The copy editor does a solid job, because besides the usual text checking for grammar, he/she monitors the logical construction of the text, its clarity and univocity, corrects readability and stylistic mistakes. Depending on the text, while copy editing, the copy editor checks the correctness of the layout structure (breakdown into sections, parts, chapters, etc.), eliminates irregularities caused by text changes by other editors, checks the table of contents with the text, checks the correctness of the headings and their font design, marks inserts. The copy editor ensures that each element of the text is connected with each subsequent meaning, so that each fact indicated in the text corresponds to reality, that all concepts are revealed, and all parts are logically connected with each other.

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That is why a copy editor is an impeccably competent specialist who knows how to use lexical and stylistic means to make the text bright, understandable and interesting for the reader.

Basic principles of the copy editor’s work

Different types of texts have their own language specifics and common mistakes. The scientific, technical, legal, administrative, journalistic, artistic, translation and other texts – each should be approached differently. However, there are some general editing rules that apply to all texts.

The text must be aligned with the requirements of spelling.

The expression should be clear and monosemous.

The presentation should be simple and readable.

In addition to the above requirements, a good copy editor should also remember the following: you cannot impose your literary taste your corrections should be minimal and reasonable.

When editing a text, one should also think about its target group, the reader. If something remains incomprehensible to the editor, then it is likely that the reader will not understand it either. Such thinking implies, of course, the specialization of the copy editor in the field of technology, medicine, law or any other field. A copy editor often has to deal with texts of a special type, and in such cases he/she is assisted by reliable sources, for example, the elementary “Orthographic Dictionary”, dictionaries of specific terms, reference books, encyclopedias, and also the advice of experts in their field.

Often, copy editing is confused or identified with proofreading, however there are significant differences between these actions and the specialists who perform them.

Proofreading of the text means aligning the text with the spelling requirements and correcting typos. Typos are various technical mistakes, for example, no spaces or incorrect letter order. The tasks of the proofreader are precisely the correction of basic language errors.

The essential difference between the proofreader and the copy editor is that the copy editor must also verify the facts. For example, when editing a translated technical text, you should match the original and the translation and correct the incorrect numerical data in the translation. But every time you should not rely on the original either, so the editor should doubt everything and always check all the facts.

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If the text is being edited constantly in the process of writing it, then the proofreading is done after the test print of the text, when it is ready, but before its mass printing. In this case, the proofreader compares the original text with the one already printed and corrects all the mistakes made. If there are too many errors, the text can be returned to the writer for revision.

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