What Does A Copy Editor Do?
A copy editor goes over your work, corrects style errors and also makes sure there are no grammatical errors or spelling. In some cases, especially when you are first starting out, the copy editor will rewrite certain parts of your story. They will make sure that the article makes sense and conforms with the media for which it is written.
Many papers today are asking writers to do their own copy editing. This is the same when it comes to some online venues. As news and entertainment media are trying to trim their budgets, many are cutting out copy editing as much as possible.
A rival newspaper to the one for which I work is now asking reporters to do their own copy editing for any weekend stories. This is expected to increase over time as the newspaper is down in circulation and has laid off a great deal of their staff. It is good for any writer who wants a career in journalism to know about copy editing not only for the sake of the media for which they write, but also as a way to make their own articles look more professional.
Copy editors also will give a title to an article. While you may like a certain title, it may not be catchy enough or fit with the publication. A great deal of the job of a copy editor is to make sure that the article catches the eye of the reader.
There are several avenues that a journalist can take when they want to move up in the career field. While some prefer just to write and seek out better assignments, others enjoy editing. If you have a good eye for detail, you may consider copy editing your own work and pursuing this field. This is one career in journalism that pays well and can be used for many other purposes. You can move up this ladder and eventually become an editor or even the editor in chief of the paper.
A copy editor does not only have to know good journalism skills, but also have a thorough knowledge of the style manual being used by the publication and excellent grammatical skills. Many writers avoid details like the black plague because they tend to bog them down and can stifle creativity. However, these details are an important aspect to putting out any sort of readable material. All writers should learn to copy edit as much of their work as possible.
When you first begin writing, the articles that you write will have to be rewritten as it is difficult to get to the point where an article comes out of your head and onto paper without revisions. As you continue to write, however, you will find that it becomes easier. Here are a few tips on how to copy edit your own articles:
Check for style and make sure that it is consistent throughout the article;
Go on a “witch hunt” and eliminate “which” when you can use “that” ;
Proof for errors in spelling by reading each line from the end to the beginning to make sure you are not skipping over anything;
Proof for consistency in what you are stating in your article;
Avoid any awkward sentences or phrases;
Try to come up with a title that will make readers want to read the story.
If you do this and then read over your article again, you can copy edit your own work. The more you get used to doing this, the better your chances are of turning in polished and professional work to your editor.
At the very least, be sure to check your facts, name spellings and read over your piece for any errors in grammar or spelling before turning it in to your editor. If you habitually turn in sloppy pieces of material that make the copy editor work overtime, you can end up losing your job. Sure, you are under the gun and need to make a deadline. But that is no excuse for turning in work that is full of errors.