Jargon Buster

Terms such as 'proofreading' and 'copy-editing' can mean different things to different people. Click on the words below to bring up a brief description of what they mean to a professional in the field. They are not always black and white: there are always grey areas in between. And they do not pretend to be comprehensive - it would be a brave man who thinks he could describe everything a copy-editor does, for example, in the space available on this page! But at the very least this page demonstrates the wide variety of work that can be done by proofreaders, copy-editors, indexers, translators...

A copy-editor works to make an author's words clear, consistent, unambiguous and accurate, and at the same time marks up the manuscript for the typesetter.
Clear: the text does not ramble or jump about, and is at the right level for the intended reader.
Consistent: the structure of the text (eg into parts and chapters) is consistent, and the text is consistent in terms of spelling, caplitalisation, hyphenation and so on.
Unambiguous: the wrong meaning cannot be taken from what is written. Frequently this means ensuring correct grammar and punctuation.
Accurate: particularly for non-fiction, no obvious errors have crept into the text, for example inaccurate quotations.
Manuscript mark-up: mark up for the typesetter not only errors to be corrected but also physical attributes of the manuscript, for example its heirarchy of headings, displayed quotations, lists, or the location of footnotes and diagrams.