What is Copyediting?

Ask the Expert series brings you Kari Filburn of Line by Line Copyediting.

Copyediting is making sure that written materials are technically correct.  This includes spelling, grammar, sentence structure etc. It also includes looking at the flow of the words, is it organized correctly, is the message getting across? Does this article make sense to the reader and is it relaying the intended message?

Any written materials can benefit from being copyedited.  Websites, manuscripts, white papers, newsletters, anything a business produces and releases to the public.

Why is it important for businesses to have their websites and business materials copyedited?

First impressions are everything.  It is important to represent themselves in the best light.  People compare websites when looking for services.  Does your website stand out, is it clear, is it easy to find information? Businesses have a message to communicate – is it getting through the way you want?

How does websites differ from other editing projects?

Website language is meant to be consumed quickly and easily.  Information needs to be easy to find and consume.  Sentences need to to shorter and no long paragraphs. The use lists and the presentation is different from other business materials.  Needs to be quick and easy to grasp language.  Consistency is also important on websites to avoid confusion.

What do you do if you know nothing about the industry?

This is not really a factor.  When I edit materials I look for readability and technical jargon.  If I do not understand the copy then others are not likely to grasp the idea either.  It is actually very helpful for me to be an outsider going over the materials.  I can point out areas where confusion happens and work with the client to get text that is more understandable to an outsider.  Fresh eyes help.

Do you have any editing tips you would like to share?

Here are some simple tips:

  • Run a spellcheck – it will find most but not all spelling errors
  • Be consistent – helps with readablity
  • Use lists and be consistent with the form of the lists