At all levels of copyeditinglight,
medium, and heavythe
copyeditor corrects errors, queries the author about conflicting
statements, requests advice when the means of resolving a problem
is unclear, and prepares a style sheet. The copyeditor may also incorporate
the author's replies to queries; this work is known as cleanup
editing. Before work begins,
freelance editors should determine if the copyediting fee will cover
cleanup editing or if cleanup editing will be performed for an additional
Copyediting (baseline editing)
- Correcting faulty
spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Correcting incorrect
usage (such as can for may).
- Checking specific
cross-references (for example, "As Table 14-6 shows...").
- Ensuring consistency
in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization.
- Checking for proper
sequencing (such as alphabetical order) in lists and other displayed
- Recording the first
references to figures, tables, and other display elements.
A light copyedit does not involve
interventions such as smoothing transitions or changing heads or
text to ensure parallel structure. The editor checks content only
to detect spots where copy is missing. A light copyedit may include
- Performing all tasks for light
- Changing text and
headings to achieve parallel structure.
- Flagging inappropriate
figures of speech.
- Ensuring that key
terms are handled consistently and that vocabulary lists and the
index contain all the terms that meet criteria specified by the
- Ensuring that previews,
summaries, and end-of-chapter questions reflect content.
Tracking the continuity of plot, setting, and character traits, and querying the discrepancies, in fiction manuscripts.
Enforcing consistent style and tone in a multi-author manuscript.
- Changing passive voice
to active voice, if requested.
- Flagging ambiguous
or incorrect statements.
- Typemarking the manuscript.
- Performing all tasks for medium
- Eliminating wordiness,
triteness, and inappropriate jargon.
- Smoothing transitions
and moving sentences to improve readability.
- Assigning new levels
to heads to achieve logical structure.
- Suggesting—and sometimes
implementing—additions and deletions, noting them at the sentence
and paragraph level.
The key differences between
heavy and medium copyedits
are the levels of judgment and rewriting involved. In a heavy copyedit,
the editor improves the flow of text rather than simply ensuring
correct usage and grammar; may suggest recasts rather than simply
flagging problems; and may enforce a uniform level, tone, and focus
as specified by the publisher or developmental
Select a copyeditor.