The Editorial Version of Peer Review: Copyediting

May 2017

A major component of any editorial project is the equivalent of scholar peer review: copyediting. Copy editors are the unsung heroes who search for flaws in concepts or unsupported claims. They examine a piece’s organization and structure. Then they comb through copy line by line for spelling, grammar, punctuation and style mistakes.

Content producers tend to be strong in one of two basic tools of the trade: research and composing. If writers excel at tracking down credible sources and conducting solid interviews, they may fall short on producing highly engaging prose. Sometimes it’s because they devote so much time to the hunt, they don’t leave enough hours, with deadlines looming, to elevate their prose. Or they are too deep in the weeds and need a helpful copyeditor to find their way out. Conversely, writers who don’t do enough research or conduct substandard interviews—or fail to land the interview at all—try to make up for it with fancy writing.

What makes for good copyediting

A good copyeditor sees through a writer’s shortcomings almost immediately. That professional scribe then either rejects a piece until it’s improved or uses his or her own considerable editorial skills to bring a piece up to code.

Traditional peer review in scholarly publications is a long, laborious process. Expert resources are brought in to blindly vet another peer’s academic work. The more rigorous the process, the more prestigious the publication.

On the other extreme are copydesks that cater to breaking news. It’s stressful work, given today’s dynamic online world and intense competition. Mistakes are more common now because of that compression of time, but there also are more opportunities to correct the record after the initial publication, and quickly.

A solid editorial process

Twirling Tiger’s editorial process falls within this spectrum. We pull in subject matter experts to vet content we produce for our technology and science-based clients. And we have a roster of copyeditors who scrutinize our projects for tone, voice, flow and, of course, accuracy.  It’s one way we fulfill  our guarantee: You’ll forget we’re not staff.

A proofreader then comes in to ensure everything is copacetic by catching any typos or style issues before a piece is uploaded or sent to the printer. Although two distinct groups, our copyeditors proof work and our proofreaders access overall copy. This final-stage check reduces the risks of mistakes made during in the editing cycle.

When deciding to partner with a custom content company or content marketing expert, make sure there’s a proven process for how editorial content is created and that it includes at least one solid round of both copy editing and proofreading. This will reduce the chance of mistakes that annoy target readers or, worse, reflect poorly on the brand.

–Anne