What Does a Copy Editor Do?

Copy editors work behind the scenes, which is why most people have a hazy idea of what they do. Many think the job of a copy editor entails skimming over a manuscript while looking for misspellings and changing a word or two here and there. But the copy editor’s responsibility runs far deeper than that. Her mission is a complex one, made up of many tasks. Copy editors are not proofreaders and they are not writers. They are the ones who stop awkward sentences in their tracks and prevent the writer from making mistakes that could otherwise embarrass him.

Think of copy editors as the polishers of the written word, those who ensure the writer and his work will shine. If there’s a sentence that bungles along awkwardly, the CE finds a way for it to forge a smoother path.If any participles are dangling, she re-casts the sentence so that the errant phrase finds a comfy home within. If the author botches a book title or proper name, it’s OK because the copy editor will be checking for those kinds of things.

Know Your Grammar

That’s right: If you want to be a copy editor, you must know your grammar. If grammar reads like a foreign language to you,and writing and reading merely put you to sleep, you’ll have your work cut out for you! If, on the other hand, you found the grammar lessons in your English classes somewhat interesting, you took a liking to your writing assignments, and you enjoyed AP English courses most of your educational career, you’re probably a very good candidate for the job. You still may be a good candidate even if none of the above is true, but command of the English language is a must. (You will learn two important rules of grammar in each session of this Workshop.)

This partial lecture came from the course Introduction to Copyediting

In this course you will:

  • Learn just what it is a copy editor does.
  • Become skilled at putting into action the most important grammatical rules.
  • Learn the tools of the trade and how to best use them.
  • Get hands-on experience editing the practice copy.
  • Learn from writing and editing your own copy.

Learn More About our Introduction to Copyediting Workshop!

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