“A copy editor’s work is largely invisible, until she misses something, in which case she takes the blame. But most important is that a copy editor stands in for the reader, gingerly reshaping, clarifying and correcting things before the reader can see them and post an excoriating comment.”
—Merrill Perlman, Former NYT Editor
Content is an important part of any business. It is the content that helps businesses differentiate themselves from their competitors. Therefore, it is crucial that the key differentiating factors, benefits and features of your business are put across to the readers in the best possible way.
A copyeditor will review your content from a reader’s perspective and make the necessary improvements.
Purpose of copy editing
Copy editing is a skill that cannot be taught but developed and improved with change of time. The main purpose of copy editing is to make sure the written copy is free of errors before being published or printed. Copy editing is the process of ensuring a content is correct in terms of syntax and fact, consistent with the flow of the content and style, and complete with respect to the context.
The 3Cs of copy editing
To stress the importance of copy editing, every copy editor must keep in mind the principles of copy editing — or The 3Cs of Copy Editing. A good copy editor has an expansive skill set that includes strong attention to detail, an ability to communicate their edits clearly and knowledge about a variety of subject matters.
The 3Cs are as follows:
Let us see each factor individually.
How do you ensure accuracy while typing? The term Correctness indicates analysis editing, that is, in simpler terms, checking all the mandatory elements such as front matter [title, author by-line, affiliation, correspondence information with correct contact details, summary/abstract, key terms, history dates, etc.], body matter [setting head levels properly, citations, placements, etc.], and back matter [acknowledgments, funding, conflict of interest, supplementary information, references, notes, etc.] by cross-checking with the submitted raw material.
The second important factor is editing for consistency throughout the work. Consistency means rule-based editing, following in-house styles to avoid ambiguity. A publication looks unprofessional if there is inconsistency in the work. By rule-based editing, we mean checking for all in-house style-related points.
In this step, the submitted work is categorized as a consistent or an inconsistent submission by giving a rough reading, and accordingly an editor edits the content. Some elements of consistency include checking for spelling, hyphenation, quotes, punctuation, italicization, casing, hierarchical order of content, format of variables and symbols, to name a few.
The third vital factor in copy editing is checking for Completeness of a sentence with clarity in the content. Copy editors should focus on correcting the sentence for grammatical errors such as checking for subject–verb agreement and rephrasing improper or incorrect sentences for better clarity. Any long, confusing sentence should be parsed constructively or split into fragmented sentences for better understanding and reading, without affecting the author’s intent. This factor of completeness is related to flair for language.
Importance of the 3Cs
Copy editing is a collective combination of analysis, styles/rules, and language. Analysis is linked with correctness, styles and rules with consistency, and language with completeness. All these three factors are interrelated and with the lack of even one factor, copy editing is incomplete.
Copy editing or content editing as a whole can be compared to our human eye, the most sensitive part of the human body. If any of the 3Cs fail, then copy editing becomes sensitive. A good copy editor who gives light to a writer’s creation / research always inherits the 3Cs. Hurix Editorial Services team constantly empowers its copy editors with this Golden Mantra which makes them successful editors across the industry.