What is copy editing?
Copy editing mainly looks at issues to do with syntax – the rules and principles that dictate the structure of sentences. They include word order and clause structure. They also include awkward or poorly-written sentences, repetition and unnecessary wordiness.
When an editor edits a paper, (s)he will also check whether it is well-organised, that the transitions between paragraphs are smooth and that the evidence backs up the arguments. This process is necessary to make the document more readable and coherent. Its numerous revisions help to show that the writer has thought seriously about the thesis and overall organisation of the paper.
The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill notes that proofreading and editing are separate processes. “Although many people use the terms interchangeably,” it observes, “proofreading and editing are two different stages of the revision process … editing is what you begin doing as soon as you finish your first draft.”
The main aim of our academic advice is to help to eliminate any barriers between the reader and what the writer wants to convey. We identify and point out any issues in the writing before the thesis is submitted.
These issues take many forms. Typically, we make dozens of suggested changes for every page we analyse. Where there are tables or illustrations in a thesis, we check that the information they present is consistent with the relevant text and any summaries of the data in them. We suggest specific ways in which the author can make further improvements to the text.
We also check for plagiarism using the writing software tool Grammarly.com. Grammarly is also a useful resource to check for superficial errors and overly long sentences, and to suggest better word choices.
There is always a significant difference between the writer’s first draft and the completed version. Our skill lies in seeing what the writer is trying to say, and helping him or her to say it better.