Copyediting & Proofreading Tips

Tips for Copyediting/Proofreading

  • Create a style sheet as you edit. It will make your own job easier and will help anyone else who might end up reviewing the text. (For certain authors, providing them with your style sheet is beneficial.)

    • A style sheet contains any terms that you may have had to look up for spelling/hyphenation and want to make sure you keep standardized, as well as notes about date formats, decisions about capitalization, and other similar considerations.  (Example.)
  • It’s often a good idea to print the text and edit it by hand and then use Track Changes to input the changes into the file. However, if you feel confident that you will catch all errors on-screen or if you are merely skimming the text as a final run-through, feel free to edit directly on-screen.
  • Track Changes should be used for the first round of editing. The final proofread, however, should only catch “little things” (commas, typos, etc.) and can be corrected without tracking the changes.
  • Look up anything you are unsure about. The CMS is your best friend. When it comes to spelling and hyphens, use Merriam-Webster as your primary dictionary.
  • Don’t be afraid to make an editorial decision if CMS or the dictionary doesn’t offer a solution. Just mark the decision on your style sheet. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the house style. Generally, it follows the CMS, but not in all cases.
  • Be especially careful with notes—it’s tempting to skim over them, but authors are often just as careless with them and they may need standardizing when it comes to punctuation, abbreviations, etc.