Copy-editors of the world untie! You have nothing too loose!!

Peter Kidd (JEPP Copy-Editor)
Peter Kidd (JEPP Copy-Editor)

By Peter Kidd

As a copy-editor working on JEPP, I am one of those to blame when a typo makes it through from submitted manuscript to printed journal. But we’re all human – well, I am – and being human we all make mistakes. I know I do.  That’s why I buy pencils with erasers on the end.

So what exactly do I do? What do I add to the publication process?

I see my job as ensuring that the text of a submission is optimized so that the reader can absorb its content and meaning with as little effort as possible. If a reader needs to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph, I have not been 100 per cent successful in copy-editing the text. 

The first task is to put the text into the journal style, correcting any omissions in author details, headings, quotation marks, italicization, and so on. Then it’s a case of reading the text from beginning to end, making sure that I fully understand the author’s meaning. If I have to pause, think about or re-read a passage of text, then it may be in need of copy-editing. This could mean there is a spelling mistake that has misled me, or the punctuation is confused or unclear, or it could be that the author has used one word where another might be more effective. Where I can, I amend the text on the page; where I’m unsure or I need further clarification, I raise an author query.

I’m sure as authors you have received what you feel are unnecessary queries. Frustrating, I’m sure, but bear in mind that it takes a lot more effort for a copy-editor to raise a query than it is to think “Ah, what the heck,” ignore it and move on. In JEPP, I also cross check all the citations with the reference list, raise queries where mismatches occur, and format the reference list in the journal style. When finished, I hope that all the queries I have raise are themselves unambiguous, and that I have added improvements to the text that will result in a clearer and more readable contribution.

I’ve been copy-editing for seven years now, having been trained by a former production manager at Taylor and Francis. I’m freelance, working from home for a number of different publishers, a working arrangement means I am able to fit my work around being the stay-at-home parent to our six-year-old daughter. Before this, I was variously a civil engineer, a project manager, a publican and a magician – see for details of my other career! (See, I told you I was human!)

Do I enjoy copy-editing JEPP? Indeed I do, particularly at this interesting time in the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe. Having worked on the journal for a number of years, it has helped me realize that although the European Union is not perfect – and what governing body is? – it has given a great deal to the citizens of Europe, including we Brits. Not everything I edit in JEPP is fascinating, but most is interesting. More interesting than some journals I have worked on – say, the history of accountancy, a dry, niche topic if ever there was one!

So that’s me and what I aim to do for you. I hope I add something to your work, even if it’s only correcting a spelling mistake here or there. With the UK referendum on the horizon, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to continuing to read and edit JEPP.  Interesting times ahead, but from what I’ve read, ’twas always so in Europe.