Editing and proofreading
1. Mechanical or linguistic editing
You want an error-free publication with style and substance. Copyediting does not only function to correct mistakes (mechanical editing), but also to refresh content, augment communication style, and re-establish your domain authority through version releases (linguistic editing). Proofreading — which exists to omit errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and inconsistencies in titling and numbering — is a subset of mechanical editing, whereas stylistic considerations, updates to versions, and re-writes are within the remit of linguistic editing.
2. Re-design or refine
Editing, at the first level, creates identification between its text and its intended audience through re-design of the original text, or refinement of unpublished drafts. Editing, at the second level, generates meaning and evokes emotional responses based on first level connections. Once we understand the context of copy, we start to attach meaning, perception, and socio-cultural perspectives to the words. In a patriarchal society, the second sentence may cause offence. Likewise in societies which make no distinction between gender rights, the first sentence may well result in negative backlashing. Clever, funny, witty, even insightful words may create identification with audiences, but it is critical to understand that second-level connections will equally influence how well the overall message is received, processed, and placed in your audiences’ minds. There are too many examples of copy that have only taken the first level of connections into considerations, only to ignore the importance of the second level.
3. Punctuation and perception
Certain words, phrases, even punctuation, when combined in selected ways can powerfully impact people’s perceptions. Here’s an example of how two punctuation marks – the comma, and the colon – can change the entire context of a sentence.
• A woman without her man is nothing.
• A woman: without her, man is nothing.
Both sentences have the same words, in the same order. In fact, the words and their arrangement are identical. Insert two strategically placed punctuation marks, and the sentences are entirely opposing. This is an example of first-level connections. A person reading these sentences will identify with either the first or the second, or both and start to make sense of the words.
4. Don’t just fix…enhance
Copyediting is a subset of copywriting, but they are not the same. If copywriting is based on communication, then copyediting deals with perceptions of communication beyond fixing text. Here’s an example unique to Singapore: ‘shiok’ has a strong identity in everyday Singaporean culture. Whether or not to use the term in formal copywriting — in election campaigns, or billboards selling insurance — is a copyediting decision. This is because copyediting is not only about fixing spelling, but at times deliberately misspelling or including the local vernacular if the meaning of the overall message is clarified in the minds of audiences. When editing and proofreading copywriting projects for Singapore and Southeast Asian audiences, Quantico always works to make meaning clearer. If slang, colloquialisms, and patois enhance the meaning of a message, it is perfectly proper (even necessary) to edit that message accordingly. Because copyediting that influences perceptions, appeals to emotions, and builds experiences is copyediting that is doing its job perfectly.
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