Copy-editing: A Guide for Proofreaders
Who is this book for?
  • proofreaders who would like to see what copy-editing involves before committing to an expensive training course
  • copy-editors who might not have undertaken formal training but have learned on the job and are not quite sure whether they are doing things properly
  • copy-editors who completed formal training many years ago, and are considering returning to work after a long break and feeling rusty!

The world of publishing today is highly computerised, and few publications are copy-edited by hand on paper. Proofreaders are therefore increasingly reading blind, without the guidance of a copy-edited typescript. This has removed a key learning opportunity for proofreaders: they no longer see how the copy-editor’s input translates on to the proofs, what works and what doesn’t work, what to do and what not to do! This book aims to fill that knowledge gap by showing proofreaders what copy-editors do and demonstrating the repercussions of the copy-editor’s work, both good and poor.

What does the book contain?
  • chapters on the role of copy-editors and their relationship with publishers, readers, authors and typesetters
  • demonstrations of how copy-editing is carried out and how copy-editors can mess things up
  • a comprehensive chapter on grammar, discussing common problems and their solutions (this chapter is also available to purchase separately)
  • three appendices comprising helpful documents, permissions guidelines and recommendations for in-depth training
  • a quick look-up table listing topics of concern to copy-editors and showing where guidance is given in the main reference works (Butcher’s Copy-editing, New Hart’s Rules, New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and the Chicago Manual of Style)
  • in addition to exercises within the chapters, a number of stand-alone exercises providing practice in a range of editing skills, from focus on the nuts and bolts of copy-editing (e.g. abbreviations, dealing with quotations), through to handling documents aimed at the public (e.g. a railway route guide, a hospital outpatient leaflet) and more complex copy-editing (e.g. a first aid handbook, an entry for a book of family games)

To order a copy (price £30 as a download from Dropbox: CIEP members are entitled to a £5 discount), please contact me directly:


Reviewed by Gillian Clarke
I have no hesitation in saying that 'Copy-editing: A guide for proofreaders' is an ideal way for proofreaders to expand their portfolio into copyediting. Additional training will be required, but this is an excellent introduction to the joys and pitfalls of copyediting.

Throughout the text there are little reminders about the basics that must become second nature to all good copyeditors. I particularly like the emphasis on the need for tact when dealing with authors directly; and the grammar section is marvellously helpful, covering pitfalls where the unwary editorial person can easily come unstuck.

Anyone who has been tutored or mentored by Margaret, or seen her helpful comments on the SfEP forums, will recognise her easy, helpful and informative style. If you are thinking about learning more about editorial work, this is the ideal book for you. It will give you insight into what copyeditors do (or don’t do, or perhaps have done wrongly) to help you understand your proofreading role, and will prepare you brilliantly for delving into the joys (or otherwise) of copyediting.

Reviewed by Mike Christou
Books about copyediting can be quite dry and taxing to read, but Margaret avoids this. The chapters are clear, easy to follow, professionally laid out and humorous in places. Furthermore, the exercises in each chapter help to consolidate the information given and are enjoyable to do. The answers and comments accompanying the exercises are useful for gaining an insight into the mind of a copyeditor at work.

By the end of this book, trained proofreaders ought to be in no doubt as to whether they should proceed onto copyediting. As the book is only £30, investing in it should be a no-brainer for proofreaders in this position. Furthermore, there is quite a leap from proofreading to copyediting, and working through this book will be good preparation should you decide to proceed with a professional copyediting course. Both untrained and trained-but-rusty copyeditors should feel more confident of their skills in future, having had a fair amount of practice by the end and seen how an experienced professional would tackle varying types of material.