Copy-editors and sub-editors ensure that a piece of
writing is as accurate as possible before it goes to print.
Copy-editors prepare the text of manuscripts for
publication. Sub-editors are concerned with style -
writing headlines and captions, media law, use of
pictures and page layout.
Copy-editors make sure the text is grammatically and factually correct and free from spelling mistakes. They check for repetition, consistency, and contradiction and in some cases adapt the copy to a house style. Most editing is done on screen, although some is carried out using a hard copy of the document.
Part of the job involves working with illustrators and designers to match up pictures with text. On newspapers and magazines copy- editors may also be expected to cut copy to fit in the required space, as well as writing headlines and picture captions. They liaise with writers, photographers and production departments to discuss the presentation, layout and design of the book or article.
Copy-editors/sub-editors normally work a 38-hour week,
but must be flexible and fit in around workloads and
deadlines. Evening and weekend work is common.
Overtime is often unpaid.
Many copy-editors are freelance, working on short-term contracts for a number of clients at the same time, either from home or in a client’s office. Freelance copy-editors are able to set their own schedules so long as they meet required deadlines.
To be a copy-editor/sub-editor you should:
Within book publishing, employers include general
publishers of consumer books, such as best-selling
fiction and non-fiction, or specialised publishers.
Competition for jobs in fiction editing is fierce and there
may be more opportunities in areas such as science and
technical, medical, education or reference publishing,
especially for those with specialist knowledge.
As more large commercial organisations are producing staff magazines and newsletters, there may be openings in this area. There are also opportunities for working on CD-ROMS, online publications and websites.
Many copy-editors work on a freelance basis.
If you would like to know anything about Copy-Editor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
The Publishing Training Centre at Book House
45 East Hill
Tel: 020 8874 2718
National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
Latton Bush Centre
Tel: 01279 430009
Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)
1 Putney Bridge Approach
Tel: 020 7736 3278