What is copyediting and how to do it correctly?

Have you completed editing your paper for grammar, syntax and clarity? If the answer is “yes”, then continue reading to learn about the next step of the manuscript production process. If “no”, check our helpful guide on the language editing process to get you started.

If you prefer to jump directly to other articles from the manuscript production series, click on the links below:

  1. language editing
  2. copyediting
  3. typesetting (known also as technical editing)
  4. proofreading
  5. XML publication (academic publishing only).

What is copyediting?

Copyediting is the revision of the written content for accuracy, clarity, consistency, and style:

  • the process involves checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that may have been overlooked during the earlier stages of paper writing
  • verifies the facts
  • validates whether sources are properly credited
  • adds new passages if essential
  • deletes unnecessary sections
  • removes inconsistencies, mistakes, and repetitions
  • blends sentences into smoothly-flowing paragraphs.

Feedback is provided whenever the content is changed, added or removed, to ensure it is accurate and relevant to the discussed topic.

The main goal of the copyediting service is to ensure the final version of a manuscript meets designated standards of quality before being published or distributed.

The difference between copyediting and language editing

Language editing is a more thorough form of editing. It looks at the overall structure of a document and the writing style:

  • focusing on making sure the manuscript reads well
  • analyzing whether the language is appropriate for the intended audience
  • concentrating on the paper’s consistency in terms of style and terminology.

Contrariwise, copyediting concentrates on the flow of writing and formatting precision throughout the document.

Both services are essential parts of the publication process. Sometimes they are performed together to shorten the manuscript processing time.

Automated copyediting tools

If you copyedit the manuscript yourself, you can try one of the online programs available. There are many tools out there to try out, with many free of charge for the basic plan.

Copyediting tools are a great help in streamlining the process and picking up on errors that the human eye may have missed. They make tedious tasks such as spell-checking and grammar correction faster and easier. They can even offer suggestions on how to improve the content, including tips on word choice and structure.

Ultimately, automated copyediting tools are intended to help authors create more polished documents in a quick and effortless way.

Manuscript formatting

Once the editing of a paper is finished, it is time to start working on the text formatting. This step of the writing process is often time-consuming, but essential to ensure that the paper looks professional and that its style is consistent throughout.

Formatting requires attention to detail, as even minor errors make the text difficult for readers to understand. There are some basic formatting rules that authors should consider to produce an effective document:

  • use standard font type and size, such as 12-point Times New Roman or Arial
  • indent the paragraphs
  • include page numbers
  • add appropriate headings and subheadings
  • use italics for emphasis.

Text formatting before submission

Correct text formatting is even more relevant when preparing a manuscript for submission:

  • submission of an article to the journal – before you start, verify the website of your preferred academic journal checking for the instructions for authors. Such guidelines list all the text formatting requirements you are expected to follow. They are usually available directly on the journal’s page or as stand-alone documents available to download. Remember, that each journal may follow a different, unique text style. There is no easy one-fits-all solution here, so devote some extra time to familiarize yourself with each specific journal’s requirements.
  • submission of a book – many publishers possess specific formatting specifications. Discuss those in detail with the submission editor before sending your manuscript off.

Referencing styles

There are many text formats and referencing styles available. In academic publishing the most popular are:

  • MLA 
  • APA
  • Harvard
  • Chicago
  • Vancouver.

Most academic journals and publishers follow one of the above-mentioned styles. Some of them, however, prefer to apply their own, unique patterns. In case the latter is true, ask the editors if they can share their style sheet with you.

Style sheets are nothing more than exemplary documents prepared according to the formatting rules. They present how headings, bibliography and other elements should look in a finished paper.

Formatting elements important in academic publishing

There are at least a few components authors should pay attention to:

  • the style of references and bibliography
  • design of headings and numbering
  • descriptions of figures, charts and tables
  • indexes and legends
  • the format of units, dimensions, abbreviations and equations.

In the case of manuscripts destined for an academic audience, there are some distinctive additional elements such as:

  • author’s affiliation details
  • keywords
  • acknowledgements
  • ethical announcements
  • conflict of interest statements
  • ORCID numbers
  • copyright, etc.

The correct text formatting takes time and may appear overwhelming. Do take your time however as accurate editing increases the chances for any positive editorial decision. It shortens also the reviewing time, as a correctly formatted document is much easier to follow.

When to work with a professional copyediting service?

Online copyediting tools are a great help when checking manuscripts to improve clarity, spelling and grammar. They may not be sufficient, however, if you need your document properly formatted before making a submission or when its subject matter requires expert knowledge. Alternatively, you may be simply out of time to go on with the editing process on your own. In these situations, you may want to start working with an experienced copyeditor

Trained copyeditors will check your writing, remove existing errors and suggest further improvements. They will pay also attention to submission formatting, so remember to provide your copyeditor with the journal’s or publisher’s style guide.

While applying the formatting choices, the copyeditor will:

  • review the font size, typeface and margins
  • check references for accuracy and consistency
  • review whether citations have their sources provided in a document
  • verify the numbering of headings, subheadings, figures and tables
  • create or correct the table of contents, indexes and appendixes.

Copyeditors specializing in academic content will also check whether your writing follows established editorial codes and conventions. They may equally underline any potential libel issues or copyright infringements that arise.

Once all the changes are applied, copyeditors send the document back to the author to ensure their ideas come through clearly and concisely. In some cases, further rounds of revision may be necessary before any final acceptance is granted.

During the whole process, copyeditors also work closely with journal editors and publishers to ensure documents are prepared in the best way possible, making them ready for the next step in the manuscript production process – the typesetting.

Copyediting service at Sciendo

The copyediting service helps authors to make improvements to their writing by addressing a wide range of potential language and formatting issues.

At Sciendo we provide copyediting and language editing services as one package to ensure the highest standard of manuscripts. We work with all of the languages we publish in: English (both British and American English), German, Spanish, Italian, French, and Polish. We work with individual book authors as well as journal editors.

When checking the documents our editors focus on:

  • the consistency of writing
  • reviewing the status of pre-press papers
  • correcting statements conflicting with general scientific knowledge
  • verifying the inclusion of ethical policies and statements, manufacturers’ names, etc.
  • checking figures, charts, tables and equations
  • style of references, bibliography and numbering
  • analyzing indexes and headings
  • removing errors in abbreviations, legends and table captions
  • ensuring coherence of units and dimensions
  • checking compliance with specific formatting requirements, e.g. affiliation style.

Our services are provided at three different levels: Light, Medium and Expert to grant authors and editors freedom to decide what depth of editing is the most suitable for their publication.

To find out more about how we can help to improve the quality of your work, contact us by completing the form.

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