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How to become a Copy-Editor

copy-editor careers

What does a Copy-Editor do?

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.

What's the working environment like working as a Copy-Editor?

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.

What does it take to become a Copy-Editor?

To be a copy-editor/sub-editor you should:

  • have a good command of English
  • have a keen eye for detail and be able to work quickly but accurately when under pressure
  • be able to communicate clearly and explain why you have made certain changes
  • be patient and tactful when dealing with an author
  • be well-organised and able to co-ordinate several jobs at once
  • have good computer skills
  • have some knowledge of production and printing processes
  • be able to cope with repetitive work
  • have a high level of self motivation.

Copy-Editor Career Opportunities

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.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Copy-Editor that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Publishers Association
29B Montague Street
London
WC1B 5BW
Tel: 020 7691 9191
www.publishers.org.uk

The Publishing Training Centre at Book House
45 East Hill
Wandsworth
London
SW18 2QZ
Tel: 020 8874 2718
www.train4publishing.co.uk

National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)
Latton Bush Centre
Southern Way
Harlow
Essex
CM18 7BL
Tel: 01279 430009
www.nctj.com

Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)
Riverbank House
1 Putney Bridge Approach
Fulham
London
SW6 3JD
Tel: 020 7736 3278
www.sfep.org.uk

Facts and Stats:

  • There are one million people in the sales profession, excluding retail sales

  • Half of all sales people are in business-to-business sales.

  • Until something is sold, nothing happens (think about it).
  • The sales process in company IT may take three years.

Courses to help you become a Copy-Editor