Copy Editing Principles

Copy editing can often seem like nitpicking, however there is a method behind it and it can seem impregnable to the uninitiated, particularly when one attempts to learn the symbols that are used to annotate a manuscript and detail the faults and errors in a manuscript document. The symbolic language makes sense once one understands it but it looked initially to me like hieroglyphics. I found this work very difficult as, as Andrew, our lecturer said, it takes a particular sort of person to be a copy editor and I am not sure that I am that person. The skills I learned from this session were the eye for detail and a certain brand of curiosity mixed with *dare I say it* pedantry – I mean this in a non-pejorative sense.

The principles of copy editing as a whole seem to be to holistic, by which I mean that the intention is to produce a whole book, that feels like a book and which embraces the whole feel and tone of the book. It is not simply correcting errors or amending typos. It is about developing a book into something that is linguistically well presented and beautifully written. Nobody is as surprised as I am to learn that this is not merely the job of the author.


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