The Importance of Copy-editing

This is going to seem like a no brain-er to a lot of you: You need to copy edit your work. A LOT.

And no, that doesn’t mean run it through spell check on Microsoft Word. I’m talking about an in depth revision process where you question your grammar, syntax, spelling, word choice and attention to your subject matter. Depending on the length and breadth of the writing, this could be of varying degrees of difficulty.

If you are working on journalistic writing, it is important to know what style book you follow. The AP (Associated Press) style guide and Chicago Manual of style are some very popular options, though many newspapers, magazines and other published print media have their own in-house style books. Know this book like your bible, it basically is.

If you are a professional writer, a lot of people argue that you have editors to do that kind of stuff for you. To a certain degree, I’m sure that this is true. But, if you hand them garbage, polished garbage is going to come out. Not to mention the fact that everyone misses stuff from time to time, things other people might catch. It is important to remember that your name is getting attached to this writing, take pride in it. If you make some horrendous and obvious mistake, people will notice it.

Even past the general structure of your writing, fact checking is a major part of good copy editing. If you mess up a date or a place, it can drastically effect or alter the meaning of your writing. Not to mention the fact that you are now writing something that is no longer true. If this information affects people in anyway, you very well might end up upsetting whoever they are. Make sure your information is write when you go to submit or publish your writing.

Sometimes it isn’t even problem with your writing being incorrect. You might just reread over a sentence and realize that you had to pause and read it again because it didn’t flow and confused you. Let’s face it, if you can’t readily understand your writing, no one else is going to have an easy time doing it. So, go back and find a better way to express what you are trying to say. Perhaps look at the vocabulary you used or the order the words are in. It might just be a poor use of punctuation that makes all the difference.

This all relates back to your credibility as a writer. It is important to work toward a good reputation as a professional writer. The last thing you want is that reputation being ruined because of poor editing, on your part or someone else’s. It is a relatively straight forward concept, albeit moderately time consuming at times.



Posted on February 1, 2014, in Journalism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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