“So… What Are the Editing Styles?”: All About Copy Editing

Welcome back to the blog for my website, Madison K. Darby Editing! I’m beyond excited to continue, and today we’re going to start the series I mentioned in my first post (click here if you need a refresher).

For our “So… What Are the Editing Styles?” series, we’ll begin with the least intensive style and work our way up, starting with a copy edit. But just because it’s the “least intensive” doesn’t mean it’s not significant. Actually, it’s probably the most important type of edit you can get. If you’re an author looking for editing services, you will most likely end up purchasing one of these. That’s because this one is all about grammar.

So, grammar… isn’t that all editing is about?

As a matter of fact, each editing style addresses a unique element of the book, with grammar only being one of them. I’m looking forward to discussing the others with you as well because we’ll be able to dig into the nuances of sentence structure and plot development (my absolute favorite part of an edit).

But for now… grammar.

Copy editing
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Even though it may not be the most popular topic, grammar is arguably the most important part of the editing process. After all—even above the entertainment value of your novel—you’ll want your book to be as error-free as possible. This is because it’s one of the keys to catching the eye of a publisher, if you decide to go that route during the publishing process. Or even if you take the self-publishing route, if your readers think your book has been badly edited, they could leave you a negative review—I see this happen a lot. Though they might enjoy your book’s plot or structure, grammar errors will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

So, when you’re first considering having your book professionally edited, a copy edit is the place to start—the grammar will definitely need to be covered.

When I receive an editing project, the author has usually purchased a couple of editing styles I’m applying to the manuscript, and I always start with the copy edit. Here are the main things that are covered:

  • Punctuation. As you’ll soon learn, commas are my best friends. They’re definitely my favorite members of the grammar world. Along with commas, I check out ending punctuation, semicolons, colons, dialogue punctuation—anything and everything that can be checked.

  • Spelling. You’d be surprised how many spelling errors can slip past you! When we as writers read our own work, our eyes sometimes skim over small issues like this, especially those pesky British spellings that sneak in there.
  • Incomplete sentences. I make sure sentences are joined together as they need to be and that there aren’t any incomplete thoughts.
  • Incorrect word choices. In the words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word… I do not think it means what you think it means.” But really, I’m constantly looking up words to make sure they’re actually being used correctly—I’ve been surprised many times to discover that some words we believe are right are used in the wrong contexts.

These are only a few of the elements covered in a copy edit, and as you’ll see from later entries, there are a couple of components that slowly blend into line editing (our next style to discuss!).

The benefits of this first style are obvious—as an author, you’ll want your book to read correctly. There are other types of editing that will bring your book to its highest potential by examining the deeper elements of the manuscript, but a copy edit is always the place to begin.

This edit makes it readable. The others make it sellable—a topic I’m very eager to dive into with you! Thanks for tuning in today, and watch out for my next article about line editing.

As I mentioned in my “Special Announcement” article yesterday, I’ll be posting one article each for Writing Tips and Get Lit for all of you readers and authors. Writers, I’m looking forward to growing with you through this experience!

As always, if you ever have any questions, please reach out to me by clicking the button below. Also, follow my social media accounts to keep up with all the latest blog and editing news.

Have a good one, and write on!


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