JACLYN ARNDT
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copyediting &
line editing

Much in the way you don’t think about the sidewalk beneath your feet unless it’s unevenly paved or has random gaps, a reader is less aware of a copyeditor’s presence than a copyeditor’s absence.

 

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Copyediting is not only about making your text shiny and sparkly—removing any grammatical, stylistic, or content errors that can trip up a reader or make a text look less than professional—but also about making sure you are still present in your work.

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In my experience, almost all copyediting involves simultaneous line editing. With the few exceptions that I outline at the end of this section, line editing plus copyediting is probably what you want from a “copyeditor.”

Line editing, or stylistic editing, focuses on content and considers things like

  • paragraph structure (e.g., increasing readability
    and flow)

  • sentence structure (e.g., eliminating passive voice or convoluted structure)

  • word usage (e.g., connotative issues, repetition)

  • redundant and contradictory statements

  • stylistic choices (e.g., audience considerations, identifying clichés)

Copyediting focuses on mechanics and considers
things like

  • style consistency

  • grammar and spelling

  • punctuation choice and placement

  • citation formatting

  • some fact checking

 

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Standalone copyediting is a good option if another editor has already reviewed your text or you need your text (and citations) to conform to a specific style before submission. This includes a journal's in-house style sheet or a university's chosen style guide, such as Chicago, MLA,
and Harvard.

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proofreading

Proofreading is the process of correcting any errors on the proof—that is, the version of the publication that comes after a designer has laid out the text and any images, often using InDesign or another such program. Many proofs come to the proofreader as PDFs and are marked up and edited electronically (although hardcopy is also always an option). Ideally, as little change as possible happens to the text itself at this point.

 

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Proofreading involves checking and correcting

  • margins and line spacing

  • hyphenation across line breaks

  • page numbering

  • cross-references (e.g., footnotes and tables of content)

  • font sizes and weights

  • image captions

  • any final style or spelling errors

Other names for “proofs” include galleys, bluelines, scatter proofs, ... and the list goes on and on.

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developmental editing

Developmental editing is a “high-level” form of editing, and it comes before the manuscript is even considered finished—and sometimes before it’s even considered started! A developmental editor reviews an author’s early manuscript or manuscript outline with an eye to form and content, determining what improvements can be made to the entire structure of the book, such as the reordering of sections and even chapters, and gets in early to help adjust tone, flow, and pacing.

 

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I currently offer developmental editing for non-fiction art-related manuscripts only.

Developmental editing involves

  • reading the manuscript multiple times

  • creating a “map” of the manuscript to determine content-level pacing and flow

  • making suggestions for paragraph, section, and chapter order

  • finding potential gaps in content

  • querying anything that may cause readers to be confused or lose interest

  • making language-level edits

  • preparing a multipage manuscript evaluation

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A developmental edit is the right level of editing if you’ve gathered all the content for a book but are unsure of the best way to unfurl it for the reader, or if you have seemingly disparate topics that need to be woven together into one book. Developmental editing can also be very helpful for newer authors as well as those who have read their content so many times that it’s hard to have perspective on it.

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style,


spelling(s),
& subject
matter

My go-to style guide is The Chicago Manual of Style, and I switch regularly between Canadian, British, and American English. (As a copyeditor based in Vancouver, Canadian English—stuck halfway between British English and American English—is my home and native tongue, so that's what you’ll find in these pages.)

 

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I have edited essays on subjects ranging from contemporary and historical art, English literature, and sociology, to law, geology, and forestry, as well as experimental and fiction manuscripts.

As luck would have it, the principles of writing aren’t subject dependent—although writing style and voice certainly can be. The only thing I might need from you if you are, say, a physics major, is a list of discipline-specific terms, along with an idea of the desired tone.

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second-
language
writers &
translations

The publications, conferences, and exhibitions of the contemporary art world bring together artists, critics,
and academics who come from a variety of countries and who speak and write in a variety of languages. And universities, of course, host students from all over the world. English is the current lingua franca of the world, and oftentimes English-language publications come out of non-English-primary countries in order to reach an international audience.

 

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In short, a lot of writing in English is by second-language writers or undergoes translation.

Much of my work involves editing writing by people who don’t have English as their primary language, and I believe it’s important to avoid bulldozing a text into a generic and formal English. Rather, my goal is to ensure correctness, readability, and comprehensibility while firmly retaining the writer’s voice.

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For translations or writing of non-English primary writers, this means correcting things like grammar errors (such as dropped articles or overly complicated sentence structure) while retaining unique characteristics (such as idiosyncratic turns of phrase).

 
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