Copy editing is the process of improving the formatting, style, and accuracy of the text. This is different from proofreading, which looks as spelling and grammar errors and corrects just spelling and grammar errors. Copy editing involves making sure that the facts states are correct and properly cited, that the entire article is understandable from start to finish, that words are used appropriately, among other things. Copy editing is very important for blogs and online publications, which often don't have a dedicated person to assess each article in this way. Here's an introduction to copy editing and a brief overview of what needs to be done when checking your blog posts or articles for formatting, style, and accuracy.
The Five C's of Copy Editing
When evaluating the formatting, style, and accuracy of the article, there are five "C's" that need to be examined. It's important that your article has each of the following before it's published. To evaluate this, you need to ask certain questions and make the necessary changes. The five "C's" are:
- Clear - Is there anything in the article that could be confusing, such as acronyms, sources, locations, references, words etc? Is there a better word or a better way to say something? If in doubt, ere on the side of caution and do what it takes to make it clear.
- Correct - Are the facts correct? Do people have their names spelled correctly? Do they have the right titles associated with them? Are statistics cited and stated correctly?
- Concise - If a sentence is 10 words long, can it be said in eight or seven without changing the meaning? Are there words and/or sentences that are redundant? Are there words and/or sentences that don't provide any meaning or value to the overall paragraph or article, and can be removed?
- Comprehensible - Can the article be understood from start to finish? Does it use any industry jargon that needs to be defined or explained? Is the information organized in a way that is logical and easy to follow?
- Consistent - Are things like tone, perspective, and the spellings or proper nouns the same throughout the entire article? Does the article fit your brand and the topics that your blog/online publication covers?
Why Copy Editing is Important
Copy editing is important for any blog or online publication because it is the last defense against bad writing and serious mistakes that could end up hurting your credibility. Instead of publishing an article that is confusing, or has a factual error in it, taking the time to edit the copy in this fashion can prevent those mistakes from getting published. You don't necessarily need to have a person dedicated to copy editing the way that newspapers and magazines do, but taking this extra step will set you apart from the rest. Everyone understands that your articles need to have correct spelling, great grammar, and need to be original. However, not everyone understands the difference clear, concise formatting makes to an article, or the difference in quality when industry terms are properly explained or when the best words are used.
Of course, copy editing saves you from embarrassing headlines and text fillers that shouldn't have gone live in the first place. It also provides an extra set of eyes to catch mistakes, or simply allows one more run through of an article before it goes live. Sure, it's a digital world where things need to get published quickly and where mistakes can be changed without everyone knowing that the mistake was made in the first place.
Hopefully, you want to be better than everyone else. Copy editing is a way to do that because hardly anyone else is paying attention.