How to become

How to become a copy editor

How to become a copy editor


A successful career as a copy editor may be possible for those with an excellent eye for detail who enjoy reading and finding errors. To assist their team in producing faultless work, copy editors must be meticulous and attentive. Understanding the primary responsibilities of a copy editor and the education necessary to do those tasks is crucial before applying for copy editing positions.

A copy editor is what?

Copy editors are in charge of editing various types of content to ensure that it adheres to fundamental standards for grammar, spelling, style, readability, voice, and other elements. Their job is to ensure that any writing produced by an organization meets a high standard of quality and successfully conveys an idea.

They work together with authors, illustrators, and publishers to standardize written work and finish projects on time. Copy editors might work as independent editors or as a part of an internal editing team.

What Exactly Is Copyediting?

The process of editing written content for readability and style while correcting grammatical and spelling problems is known as copy editing. Despite the fact that the two tasks are somewhat related, it is not proofreading. Proofreading is concerned with making sure the final piece of information is free from errors, but it doesn’t look at adjustments that go beyond simple typos and grammatical mistakes.

The work of a copy editor

The argument between copy editors and editors is another. Particularly if you are new to the field, it might be challenging to tell a copy editor from an editor. Here’s how to approach it simply: All editors check for spelling and grammar accuracy, but copy editors concentrate on the writing style and make sure it matches the publication’s or brand’s aesthetic, whereas editors focus on the overall picture and how the piece is put together.

The copy editor’s job is to make sure the content is accurate in spelling and grammar, follows the chosen style guide, and is legible and understandable by the target audience.

Copy editors check written text for both structure and style. They add commas when necessary and rectify spelling errors as necessary. Copy editors provide thorough input so that the original author can make substantial edits for more significant faults like organization, focus, or tone. To cut down on the number of words in a piece of work, copy editors may also eliminate chunks of it or rewrite some phrases to make the ideas flow better. A copy editor’s other responsibilities include the following:

  • Verifying statements.
  • examining the sources and including links.
  • writing the subtitles and titles.
  • offering suggestions for upcoming upgrades.
  • teaching authors about the style manual used by their company.
  • modifying the formatting and page layout.

Any type of writing can be edited by a copy editor. They have the ability to modify emails, manuscripts, job descriptions, news articles, and even internal documents.

Some copy editors may focus on a technical area where their work involves more in-depth research.

Steps to become a copy editor

Use these steps as a manual to launch your career as a copy editor:

1. Work toward a graduate degree

Consider earning a bachelor’s degree in a discipline that is connected to writing if you want to acquire the fundamentals of copy editing. Many copy editing jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree, although having one can offer you an advantage in the job market. Employers might also recognise a diploma or its equivalent, allowing you to advance your credentials by earning further certifications or credentials.

To ensure that the copy editors they hire are knowledgeable about proper grammar usage and written communication, employers frequently search for copy editors who have degrees in English or a closely related discipline. An associate’s degree or comparable work experience may also be accepted by some companies, but a bachelor’s degree is typically required for many copy editing employment. Choose electives and classes that will improve your technical writing and editing abilities, such as:

  • Basics of editing
  • A news edit
  • Pagination for corporate communications
  • Artistic journalism
  • Public affairs
  • Journalism principles
  • Proofreading

2. Regularly read and write

The easiest strategy to improve your copy editing abilities is to read and write frequently to keep yourself in practice. Read the kinds of material you wish to edit to familiarize yourself with industry best practices and spot typical readability and flow problems. To adopt an editor’s perspective, take notes on the edits you would make whenever you read someone else’s work.

Even while you won’t be writing content on your own as a copy editor, writing independently can still improve you as an editor. Writing exercises can help you gain understanding of the writing process, which will enable you to offer more helpful suggestions and edits.

3. Examine various specialties

Based on the genre of literature you enjoy working with the most, you might want to consider pursuing a particular niche. To find out what areas of expertise best suit your skills and professional objectives, submit applications for editing and proofreading internships in various industries.

4. Recognize diverse style manuals

Before applying for copy editing positions, spend some time studying popular style guides. Although each company or client may have their own distinct style manuals, they frequently incorporate parts of the well-known academic style manuals like APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian.

Employers frequently demand copy editors to be experts in these style manuals and be able to quickly change punctuation and formatting without consulting a reference. This is particularly important if you wish to copy edit any kind of technical or scientific writing.

To practise utilizing the style manuals that are most frequently used in your chosen field, consider using flashcards or workbooks. You might want to buy a copy of the official style manuals for yourself and keep up with any new revisions when they come out.

5. Develop a freelance portfolio

To polish your talents and build an editing portfolio, look for little freelance editing tasks. You can show the precise influence you could have on a client’s writing efforts by developing an editing portfolio.

If you save a before-and-after copy of these assignments or scan papers to exhibit your annotations, make sure to demonstrate your editing process. You can demonstrate your understanding of common copy editing notes and your capacity to streamline and enhance subpar text using your portfolio.

6. Acquire credentials

Copy editing and other writing courses are offered in many schools as credentials. Having a certification might help you stand out from other applicants and give you more insight into the industry. You can also pursue certifications and professional development training in related disciplines like publishing or marketing.

Consider joining a professional copy editing organization, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association or the Society for Editing, often known as the American Copy Editors Society, while pursuing official certification. Throughout your editing career, professional organizations may be able to assist you in getting training, attending workshops, and developing your abilities.

7. Create a professional cv

Your cover letter and resume should be error-free if you’re trying to become a copy editor. Any written material you submit ought to be error-free and beneficial to your application. Remove any information that is redundant or unimportant, and use powerful verbs and adjectives to show off your writing skills. Consistent spacing and punctuation also demonstrate that you are aware of formatting guidelines and can use them in your own writing.

7. Promote yourself

Marketing your professional abilities can make you stand out as a top candidate for copy editing employment, whether you wish to work independently or for an organization. Think about building your own website to highlight your professional capabilities, or use social media to connect with other writers and publishing industry experts.

Contact companies and clients who create the kind of content you want to edit and describe the benefits you would provide to their writing process. You can search for websites that have problems in their writing and editing, then provide an editing sample to demonstrate how you could enhance their online visibility.

9. Finish editing tests

You must submit an editing test as part of the application procedure for many copy editing jobs. You’ll have a short amount of time to study a style manual and use it on a piece of writing. It’s common for these test items to be purposefully filled with mistakes, so be vigilant in identifying and fixing as many as you can.


Copy editors frequently collaborate with different writers or work on several projects at once. Possessing strong organizational abilities might demonstrate to potential employers that you can organize your workday well and manage your activities in an ordered way. A successful career in copy editing requires the ability to be organized and composed under pressure at work.


On your resume, you might emphasize your verbal and written communication abilities to show how effective you are as a copy editor. Copy editors analyze material to see if it adheres to style guidelines and properly conveys the intended information to the target audience. This requires great communication skills. You can edit content to improve flow and make sure the voice, tone, and structure are appropriate.

Copy editors who succeed at writing also have strong verbal communication skills, which promote fruitful interactions with writers, clients, or employers. Verbal communication abilities can help you suggest rewrites or edit requests to authors, and they can also promote more positive working relationships.

12.Managing time

Every article or project that copy editors work on has a deadline. To meet deadlines, keep the editorial process running well, and accomplish organizational objectives, a copy editor must manage their time effectively. The ability to manage your time well is a crucial resume skill that may demonstrate your expertise and competence to potential employers.


The capacity to locate particular solutions to queries is referred to as research abilities. Make sure the information in each work product you edit as a copy editor is factually accurate. You can conduct research to verify any dates, historical allusions, or quotations that are mentioned in the content. On your resume, mention your research abilities to demonstrate your understanding of the industry you plan to enter.

Recruit positive word-of-mouth to promote your editing services.

Letting others handle the labor is one of the best ways to sell yourself. Nothing is more encouraging for a customer considering your copy editing service than to hear from your former clients that you are understanding, competent, and fantastic at refining text.

Develop those good client testimonials early on and make sure they are prominently displayed on your website. Never be afraid to ask your clients for comments after each job you complete together and to invite them back for additional work or to recommend you to others who require copy editing.

The average pay for a copy editor

Working full-time, In the US, a copy editor can expect to make $25.83 per hour on average. Your pay as a copy editor may vary depending on where you live, the type of business you work for, and your level of experience.

United States cities with the highest salaries for copy editors

New York, NY                           $29.92 per hour

Boston, MA                               $29.50 per hour

Los Angeles, CA                       $28.33 per hour

Atlanta, GA                               $27.14 per hour

Raleigh, NC                              $26.19 per hour

Cleveland, OH                          $25.65 per hour

Cincinnati, OH                          $25.63 per hour

Salt Lake City, UT                    $25.58 per hour

San Antonio, TX                       $25.10 per hour

Best firms in the US for copy editors

Merck                                                             $53.58 per hour

Nexon                                                            $48.50 per hour

Johns Towing                                                 $42.43 per hour

Marcus Thomas                                             $36.77 per hour

DISYS                                                            $36.58 per hour

Solugenix Corporation                                      $34.00 per hour

United States Department Of Defense             $32.00 per hour

ClearPoint                                                         $31.79 per hour


Copy editors work where?

At periodicals, newspapers, marketing companies, publishing houses, and public relations firms, copy editors are a common sight. A copy editor could be required by any company that creates written content.

What kind of setting does a copy editor work in?

The majority of copy editors spend their days at their desks during regular business hours. To speed up turnaround and facilitate the editing process, they might collaborate in the same workplace as writers. Freelance copy editors can choose their own schedules and operate from home as long as they satisfy deadlines set by clients.

What should the major be for a copy editor?

A variety of writing-related majors, including journalism, literature, communications, linguistics, creative writing, and marketing, are available to copy editors.

What distinguishes a proofreader from a copy editor?

Copy editing includes a number of different duties in addition to proofreading, which is one of its duties. Copy editors alter the material as a whole to improve the style and focus of the work whereas proofreaders just focus on typographical and grammatical issues.

What is a copy editor’s role?

As a copy editor or proofreader, you’ll make sure that the text is well written, grammatically sound, and readable as well as that it is clear, consistent, complete, and credible. You will prepare the original writing, or the copy, for publication. Books are only one of the publications you’ll work on.