Things to Consider When Choosing a Copy Editor

Hear From eContent Pro International’s Editors
By Nikki Borgel on Oct 22, 2020
Copy Editor

The act of the academic editing process can be labor-intensive and time-consuming; however, according to Dr. Sabrina Leone of Università Politecnica delle Marche, Italy, “Copy editing services reduce an author’s work overload and the pressure that the rhythm of competitive academic production and expectations demand. Further, a writer may benefit from copy-editing services because he/she is unfamiliar with a certain publishing style; not proficient in English formal writing skills; overloaded with publications, conferences, and engagements; needs to increase the number of publications; or needs to improve the quality of his/her publications.”

While hiring a professional copy editor may alleviate a significant portion of the anxiety that comes with the editing phase of your writing process, it is vital to continually provide the necessary information to your copy editor to ensure a streamlined process. Depending on your field of study and the type of submission, the process of copy editing can look different from manuscript to manuscript. Based on this, if you are not specific in what you need, you may not receive the results you expected, causing you greater stress closer to the submission deadline.

To help authors eliminate the additional stress of unnecessary, insufficient, or inadequately focused edits, we consulted with some of eContent Pro International’s expert international copy editors. Find below some important questions to ask yourself before hiring a copy editor.

What are you looking to improve with your manuscript?

Dr. Paulina Cossette, a freelance copy editor and former U.S. Politics Professor, considers “whether the author wants us to correct formatting, headings styles, etc., or just revise the flow and clarity of the text” to be some of the most helpful information when starting a copy editing project.

Copy editors strive to improve your writing, and it is most important for you to be detailed in the improvements you want to make. For instance, in academic publishing, some clients want the primary focus of the edits to be on the language, flow, clarity, and grammar of their submission. Other authors focus on their citations and modifying their manuscript to a publisher’s style guide.

To save your editor time and mitigate a prolonged editorial process, be specific in what you need from your editor. For example, if your focus in on correcting language and clarity, you can note that you are not interested in having your document formatted during that phase.

What are the style format and the publisher’s guidelines?

When an author selects a journal to submit to, publishers provide a set of rules and guidelines for style and formatting. Being as specific as possible with your editor when it comes to style guidelines is crucial. Professional copy editor Dr. Jeffrey Morris of Texas A&M University, USA says, “It's a common mistake to assume that there is one clearly correct way to do everything. Style guides can vary widely (e.g., eg, and e.g. are correct in different style guides, and others say not to use it at all). It's best to make your intentions clear: tell us what style guide or journal you have in mind.”

However, many authors write and edit their work prior to selecting a journal for submission. If you are entering the editing process unsure of which out of thousands of journals would best fit your research, you can use a journal recommendation service, such as the free Journal Finder available through eContent Pro International. Alternatively, you can research which style guide is most commonly used in your subject area or by the publishers that interest you the most to give your editor a style guide to work with even if you have not yet made a final selection.

Which type of editing does your manuscript require?

Across the publishing industry serving different genres from science fiction to academic research, there is a wide array of editing styles and services. Depending on your writing, it is important to know which type of editing you need. To help you, we have compiled a list of some of the most common and useful forms of editing, especially for academic writing.

Macro/Big Picture Editing
  • Developmental Editing (Content or Substantive Editing): Typically, this is the first step in the editing process. Here, the editor looks for major inconsistencies in idea development, thought progression, or logic within the manuscript. The product returned includes a critique denoting what is and is not working within your manuscript, as well as a marked-up copy of your document, including specific notes/questions to help guide the development of the research.
  • Structural Editing: Like developmental editing, structural editing looks at the big picture/main idea of the writing. For this, the editor will make comments on the organization of the writing, suggesting a re-ordering of ideas for easier comprehension. Oftentimes, structural editing is encompassed in developmental editing, but if it is a central concern to you, consider requesting specific critique on the structure of your document.

Micro/Detail Editing

  • Line Editing and Copy Editing: These two types of editing are very similar, though line editing is more popular for creative, rather than academic writing styles. Copy editing is when an editor reviews your manuscript on a sentence by sentence basis, looking for errors in grammar and spelling, as well as inconsistencies in details and descriptions. Line editing also looks at the manuscript line-by-line but is more focused on the sound and flow of the writing, rather than its general correctness and readability.
  • Proofreading: Proofreading is normally the last step before an author submits for publication. This is a final read-through to catch any last-minute grammar errors, inconsistencies, or other issues that will hinder the readability of your manuscript. Many services and editors offer copy editing and proofreading as a package.
  • Formatting: Formatting is most important to academic writing. This is because of the importance and difficulty in properly utilizing citations. Editors who specialize in academic writing also specialize in the most popular academic style guides (APA, Chicago, MLA, Harvard, and AMA). Format editing will help put citations in their proper order and format so you can be confident that no one will question the credibility of your sources or research.

Once you establish what phase of the editing process your manuscript is in and the type of editing you need, it is time to select an editor or editing service. eContent Pro International offers a wide variety of editorial services including Scientific & Scholarly Editing which focus on a macro and developmental editing approach, as well as presenting authors with peer review level feedback. eContent Pro International also provides a Copy Editing & Proofreading service that encompasses a thorough, detail-oriented edit to help finalize your paper before submission.

What are the language requirements of your manuscript?

Writers often forget that there are multiple forms of the English language that greatly affect the grammar and spelling within a manuscript. As Dr. Jeffrey Morris also says, “It would be very helpful if authors would indicate their preference for American or British spellings. It can be tricky to guess which is intended. I know some countries use a mix of both, so it would also be helpful to have a note confirming that spellings should be left as they are.”

Informing your copy editor of which style of English you intend to use permits them to concentrate on the more relevant things within your manuscript, bringing you higher quality edits in a shorter time frame.

Be sure to answer all the above questions prior to choosing an editor or editing service. Whether you are faced with a quick turnaround time or in need of a proof of copy-editing certificate, eContent Pro International offers high-quality, affordable, and expeditious copy editing and proofreading services on your manuscript that can increase the chance of being accepted in a publication of your choice in the shortest amount of time.

There are endless options in editing, all capable of being adapted to your specific needs as a writer or an academic. If copy editing and proofreading are a necessity for your current manuscript or you’re interested in working with Dr. Leone, Dr. Morris, or Dr. Cossette, or any of our other talented and experienced editors, you can submit your document to eContent Pro International here.

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To learn more about how our copy editing and proofreading service can enhance your document or to upload a project, please visit our copy editing webpage here, or contact us directly at customerservice@econtentpro.com or 717-533-4010.

About eContent Pro International: eContent Pro International is a U.S.-based, professional editorial and publishing services provider for authors, publishing houses, libraries, organizations, university presses, and societies. Offering professional copy editing, translation, scientific and scholarly editing, journal recommendation, typesetting, figure, chart, table, and equation conversions, as well as other production services, we have provided the highest quality editorial services and content advisement to scholarly outlets and individuals around the world. To learn more about eContent Pro International, visit the website here or email customerservice@econtentpro.com.

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