Editing Course: What is Copyright?

Most people recognise the copyright symbol, but everyone in the publishing industry needs to know what might cause a copyright issue.

© This is the worldwide symbol that signals a work is owned by someone and no one else has the right to use it. Sounds simple, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Firstly, each country has its own laws. In Australia, our laws are administered by the federal Government. The Australian Copyright Council is a non-profit organisation that offers free advice, information and training.

Australian Copyright Council
3/245 Chalmers Street, Redfern NSW 2106
Phone: 02 9318 1788
Fax: 02 9698 3536
Email: cpright@copyright.org.au
Website: www.copyright.org.au

Who Owns the Work?

Anything you write, be it a book, play, course, or piece of music is copyright. To assert your intellectual property right you can use the copyright symbol in the following manner:

© The Publishing Company 2010
© Karen Lee Field 2011

You may also insert the word ‘copyright’ too:

Copyright © The Publishing Company 2010
© Copyright Karen Lee Field 2011

If someone copies your work, it is known as a copyright infringement. However, sometimes you do NOT own the copyright even when you wrote the piece.

If you work for a company or contract to a company and you are paid to write the piece for them, then the company owns copyright, not you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve signed a contract without a intellectual property clause, it is still implicit under the law.

This means you cannot sell the piece to another person or company, as you do not own it. However, there is nothing to stop you writing a similar piece to sell.

Defending Your Copyright

Most authors cannot afford legal representation. This is also the case for many small publishing companies. Mega companies can and do defend their copyright and it costs a lot of money.

Nevertheless, as an author, editor or publisher you must be responsible for making sure you do not breach copyright.

As an editor or publisher, if the manuscript you are working on appears to be a copy of a book you’re read, mention this to the author. People do have similar ideas and maybe it is a coincidence. If, however, it is word for word alarm bells should be ringing. No publisher should publish a manuscript that breaches copyright as they could possibly find themselves in court!

When Does Copyright Expire?

Generally, copyright lasts for seventy years after the death of the creator.

In many cases the rights to books, artwork, songs and other works may have been purchase by another individual or company so copyright continues for much longer.

Never assume a work is out of copyright. You need to be 100% sure before using anything that may be considered an infringement.

What About Book Titles?

Titles are not copyright yet you must be careful as using a title of a highly successful book may be seen as a breach of copyright.

For example, say a book is published with the title ‘Cats’ and, as an editor, you are working on a manuscript with the same title. ‘Cats’ is a word and anyone can use it, but it may be worth mentioning this to the author due to the possibility of future confusion.

Having said that, if the manuscript has the title ‘The Da Vinci Code’ then the publisher would be taking a huge risk and would be wise to suggest the author change the name as the title is synonymous with the successful book and to try and reuse it would be unthinkable. Something related to the title would be much better.


Never use a trademarked name and then defame the owner of it. However, it’s fine to refer to the trademarked product in general.

Example: Jenny took her parents to Gloria Jeans for coffee.

There are two types of trademarks: ™ and ®

™ means registration of the trademark is pending. This can often take months, sometimes years.

® means registration has been approved.

It is illegal to use ® unless approval has been granted.

Editing Course: Types of Electronic Documents

This is pretty basic and I wasn’t going to include it on the website, but then I realised that not everyone knows what electronic documents are. My mother still can’t understand why digital cameras don’t need a film or how an email can be received within seconds of sending it, especially when the recipient is on the other side of the world.

With this in mind, here’s a very basic list of electronic documents.

Ebooks: Electronic books, viewed on an ereader. This is a fast growing market in electronic publishing.

E-zines: Electronic magazines distributed electronically via email. They may be the size of a newsletter (under 10 pages) or as large as a printed magazine.

E-newsletters: Mostly referred to as e-zines. They are a short electronic publication, usually sharing news on a specific topic. They are distributed via email.

E-documents: Mostly used in the business sector. E-documents are useful as they can be updated regularly and easily. They can be downloaded from websites as a PDF and emailed with ease.

A Few Editing/Proofreading Tips

It is harder to find errors on screen so wherever possible it is better to print the document before attempting to edit/proofread it.

However, printing the document is not always an option. If you must edit/proofread on screen remember the glare of the screen can cause eye strain so take regular breaks to rest your eyes.

Editing Course: Online Webpages

When editing or proofreading webpages online there are a few things to remember. It is more difficult to read screen based documents. And you are not only checking the content. Once you have edited or proofread the site, you will need to type up your report and send it to the client via email.

Elements of a Website

Reporting for a website is slightly different than reporting for a PDF document. You must ensure your client understands which page you are referring to. Here are some website elements and how to report them.

Functionality: Check the content is useful and helpful, and make sure a contact page is provided.

home/index.html: doesn’t mention the product
contacts/site.html: there is no email address

Navigation: Ensure the site is user-friendly, a navigation bar is on all pages and easy to locate and use.

products/style.html: no navigation bar on page
products/postage.html: sub-menu is not clickable

Consistency: Ensure the content is consistent, as well as the layout and placement of graphics.

about us/history.html: irrelevant information
index.html: different logo used to rest of site

Accuracy: Ensure all links work, all headings are correct, all references to the company are spelt correctly, and all banners, menus, etc work.

prices/design.html: page doesn’t load
products/faq.html: para 2, line 4: “there’ sb “their”

Speed: Too many graphics will cause a page to load slowly.

products/design.html: page loads slowly

Appearance: Does the site look professional? Will it appeal to its target audience?

contactus.html: emoticons look unbusiness like
products/design.html: graphics slow loading

Browsers: Check to ensure the website displays correctly in various browsers.

Website does not display properly in IE.

Resolutions: Check the screen resolutions, where possible, as some designs look shabby when viewed with smaller or larger screens.

Website does not display properly when viewed on larger screens.

Maintenance: Are the file names complicated or user-friendly? Is the coding easy to change on pages that need frequent updating?

homepage/index.html: file name too complicated
products/pricing.html: content difficult to update

Some Basics of Online Editing

Successful websites tend to offer “byte-sized” chunks of information rather than long pieces of written material as most visitors skim over the content if there’s too much reading involved.

The layout should be user-friendly, with key elements such as links and headlines easy to find and standing out from the rest of the text.

Websites make use of colour, graphics, bullet points and underlined links but should never be cluttered and cramped as it puts the viewer/reader off.

When proofing a website some proofreaders like to scroll down the page, reading each line as it appears at the bottom of the page. Others prefer to use the cursor, moving it across the page as they check each word. Remember, ALL text must be checked on every page (ie headings, banners, logos, content, links, address bars, etc). It is always wise to write your report as you check each page.

Editing Course: Reporting Corrections by Email

If a client emails you a document in PDF, you can proofread it, write up the corrections in an email or Word document and attach it to an email and send the email back to the client.

To write up corrections, you use a simple reporting apprach based on abbreviated terms. These are common reporting terms used across the industry:


Term What it Means
P#. (ie P1) page (ie page 1)
Col column
row row
Para or P paragraph
line or L line
sb should be
no corrections There are no corrections to be made to the page


If reporting to a client who does not understand the reporting process or abbreviations then you would set out your report in full. For example:

Page 1
Para 1 line 1: “th launch” sb “the launch”
Para 1 line 5: insert comma after “Saturday”
Para 2 line 3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

However, if the client is familiar with the process, use abbreviated terms. Example:

P1 L1: “th” sb “the”
P1 L5: insert comma after “Saturday”
P2 L3: remove apostrophe from “it’s” sb “its”

Steps to Handling a Reporting Job

1. Print out the PDF, website page or document.
2. Mark it up in the normal manner.
3. Type the corrections into an email or Word document, using 1.5 spacing for easier reading and an extra space between page indications.
4. Email back to client.

Editing Course: Using Technology

Editing and proofreading is not just about printed matter/publications, it also involves working with other technology such as:

A website, where you would proof the pages on-screen and either email, fax or post back the corrections.

A PDF document, where you would proof the document on-screen and email back the corrections.

A Word, RTF or other soft document created in a word processor, where you would edit the document using “Track Changes” and email it back to the client.

An editor/proofreader must understand the processes of doing their work using technology. However, it is up to the individual if these services are offered. Of course, the more flexible you are, the better for you.

How Much to Charge

To start with you would probably charge about $20 – $25 per hour, but this will increase to $25 – $35 per hour as you gain experience. This is the same amount you would charge to edit/proofread hard copies.

Remember, proofreading attracts a lower fee – $20 – $25 per hour. Copyediting is around $25 – $35 per hour. And substantive editing is $40 upwards.

Keep in mind also that you will probably have to print out the soft document as it is usually easier to work with.

Technology Jargon

It is always helpful to know the jargon when using technology. Here is a short list of meanings:

These days it is not uncommon to see “e” in front of words (for example, email, e-zine, e-commerce, ebooks). The “e” means electronic.

“Uploading files” means sending files.

“Downloading files” means receiving files.

“PDF” means portable document format.

“RTF” means rich text format.

“Log in” means to access an account (and is two words).

When editing/proofreading, it is important to remember the following:

Internet should always be spelt with a capital “I” as it is a proper noun.

World Wide Web should always be capitalised too, for the same reason.

Web, when referring to the Internet, should be capitalised as it is the formal abbreviation of a proper noun.

Email can be hyphenated (e-mail) or can be written without the hyphen (email), but all other “e” words should be written with the hyphen, unless house-style dictates otherwise.

Using Spelling and Grammar Checkers

It is dicey to use spell checkers included in word processors as they are unreliable.

Use them only if you have the right one installed for your location (ie it is no use using a US spell checker if you are in Australia), and you only use it to pick up everyday typos at a glance. Do not depend on them and always edit your own work for errors.

Remember, these checkers are often wrong!

Editing Course: Putting it all Together

So far during the course I’ve learned many things. Some interesting theory about the publishing world and some stuff I already knew but was pleased to do a refresher for. The main thing I’ve learned, however, is the proofreading marks and conventions.

The topics in the current unit are now all practical exercises, putting together all the editing and proofreading marks I’ve learned so far so there’s nothing for me to type about. However, there was a simple list of quick tips I thought would be interesting to share.

Here is the list:

  • Take care with proofreading marks and make sure they are clear.
  • Make the marks short and fat rather than long and skinny. This will save space and give more room for marks on the lines of text above and below the one you’re working on.
  • Start your margin marks further to the left (in both margins) to allow room for other marks on the same line of text.
  • By pressing more lightly on the marking pen, the marks become clearer.
  • Use a ruler, if necessary.
  • Use white out to erase a mark. Even copyeditors and proofreaders make mistakes.

Editing Course: Perfect Punctuation II

When editing manuscripts for books, it’s important to understand the use of inverted commas for speech, quotes and apostrophes.

Speech Marks: Single or Double?

We use speech marks (ie “…” or ‘…’) in novels, magazines and newspapers to indicate when a person is talking.

Different countries have their own standards when displaying speech marks. In Australia and England the standard is to use single inverted commas for adult fiction and non-fiction.

When using single speech marks (ie ‘…’) and you need to quote a section of text within the speech, the quoted section would use double speech marks (ie “…”). Example: ‘Jim told me “it would be better for everyone”, but I don’t agree with him.’

In contrast, many children’s publishers in Australia and England use double speech marks for dialogue in picture books and early readers.

Magazines and newspapers also have adopted the double speech marks, and use single speech marks for quoted sections with text. However, they use double speech marks for stand alone quotations.

It is recommended to authors to use double speech marks as it is easier to do a find and replace to change double to single than the other way round because of apostrophes.

Conventional Usage for Punctuation with Speech

Should the comma/full stop/question mark/exclamation mark be inside or outside the quotation marks? It’s not an easy question to answer as there is no definitive answer.

In America these marks always go inside the speech marks. In Australia and England it changes depending on the situation.

This is quoted from the Australian Style manual:

In North America it is conventional for closing quotation marks to follow commas, but to precede semi-colons and colons. In Britain the situation is not quite as simple, although it is more logical. If the quoted material would have contained the punctuation mark in the absence of any interruption, the punctuation mark stays inside the closing quotation marks. On the other hand, if the punctuation is part of the carrier sentence it follows the closing quotation mark.

For example, when the punctuation closes the entire carrier sentence, not just the dialogue:

Josie faced her husband and said, “James, I’m leaving you”.


“James, I’m leaving you,” said Josie, facing her husband.

Alternatively, when the punctuation is part of the dialogue:

Josie faced her husband. “James, I’m leaving you.”

Other Things to Remember

Thoughts: Never use inverted commas for speech as it will confuse the reader. They will be unable to determine if the characters are speaking or thinking. The standard convention is to use italics for thought.

Dialogue Breaks: This is not a universal rule, but generally a new paragraph should start whenever the dialogue changes to a different character. This is a clear indication that someone else is speaking. Some authors prefer to run the dialogue on in certain cases such as writing style, to show several people are talking at once or to speed the pace up.

Quote Marks: As with speech marks, the use of quote marks can vary from country to country. They can be single or double inverted commas, but they must be the opposite of speech marks when used to together. Style is an in-house preference and should be consistent.


Apostrophes are used in a range of text, such as when contracting two words into one (“it’s” for “it is”), for showing singular possession (Tim’s pen) and plural possession (Jones’s car).

There is a rule for when using apostrophes with names ending in “s”. If the word has one syllable (eg James) then you would add the extra “s” (eg James’s book). If the word has two or more syllables (eg Collins), you would not add the extra “s” (eg Collins’ house).

Many people ignore this rule and use only one “s” all the time as they prefer this method.

Knowing when to use an apostrophe when it comes to time can be tricky. The rule, however, is quite simple. For day, month and year the apostrophe is only used when referring to one of them, but is not used when referring to more than one. Examples are:

One day’s salary
Five days experience
One month’s anniversary
Ten months old
One year’s weather pattern
Twenty years weather pattern

Other Things to Remember

Ellipsis Points: When text is omitted from the start three full stops (ellipsis points) followed by a space are used before the rest of the text.

Example: … as can be seen here.

When omitting text from the end of a sentence you insert a space followed by the ellipsis points.

Example: “Did you mean …?” Pat gasped.

When used in the middle of a sentence the use of ellipsis points can indicate one of two things, words have been omitted or hesitancy. The ellipsis points would have a space before and after them.

Example: “Oh … I … didn’t mean that.”

In some countries the ellipsis may be spaced out (. . .) with or without a space before and after the points.

Salutations: The standard is not to use punctuation after salutations.

Example: Mr Smith rather than Mr. Smith

Greetings: The standard is the same as for salutations, not to use punctuation.

Example: Dear John rather than Dear John,


Yours sincerely rather than Yours sincerely,

Working on Punctuation

Copyeditors and proofreaders need to be focused when working on documents with lots of dialogue as the mind picks up what it should see, not always what is there.

To develop loyal clients, it is important to slow down and put extra effort into punctuation. It is important to hand back a thorough job instead of a job that still has lots of uncorrected mistakes. If you do this, the client will not come back to you again and they certainly won’t recommend you to others.

Important Note: No matter what the standard, it is all about consistency. If punctuation is used throughout the entire document in a certain way then check with the client prior to marking it up as it might be an in-house preference and not considered an error at all.

Editing Course: Formatting Style

Today’s topic was huge! However, there were pages and pages of practical exercises as I learn to mark-up page formatting. None of the mark-up material will be covered here, you’ll have to do the course if you want to learn that, so although the unit took forever for me to get through, this post is actually going to be very short. 😀

Unit 3, Topic 3: Formatting Style

Editors, copyeditors and proofreaders use a number of formatting marks when looking at the layout of a document.

Formatting styles include:

  • paragraph layout – whether they are indented or not
  • text alignment – left, right, centred or justified
  • headings – main headings as well as subheading
  • page margins – left, right, top and bottom
  • layout of images, illustrations and tables

More on Paragraph Layout

Indent Style: Newspapers, magazines and books commonly use indent style, which means the first line of a new chapter or section is always set full out to the left (not indented). Subsequent paragraphs are then indented three or four points in from the left margin.

Non-Ident Style: Non-ident style means that all lines of the text are full out to the left (otherwise known as left justified). When using this method it is usual to allow extra space between paragraphs for readability reasons. Without the extra space the paragraphs are not always clearly defined.

Editing Course: Typography

Typography refers to the type (font) used to produce a document.

Many years ago typesetting was a huge job and took hours to do. The craftsman would need a good sense of style and lots of patience as he would draw an entire typeface design and then cut out metal dies that would be used to create each letter, and in turn, each word.

These days, word processors have made the job a lot easier.

Type Style

An editor must have an understanding of the terminology, basic concepts and conventions of type.

Font describes three elements; typeface (ie Arial, Georgia, Times New Roman), type style (ie regular, italic, bold) and type size (ie point size such as 10 or 12 point).

Typefaces are designed to include space above and below so that the descenders of one line do not touch the ascenders of the next line.

There are two main kinds of type face: serif typeface and sans serif typeface. Serif fonts have the little bits on the ends of the characters, whereas sans serif (non-serif) do not.

It has been demonstrated that serif fonts are much clearer and easier to read in large blocks. Most newspapers and books use serif typeface for this reason.

Of the serif typefaces some are more legible than others. For instance, Georgia is easier to read than Garamond or Times New Roman.

Sans serif typefaces are harder to read in large blocks and can cause eye strain. However, for headings and headlines, sans serif typefaces carry more impact. For this reason it is not uncommon for sans serif typefaces to be used for headings and serif typefaces to be used in the body text.

Many businesses use Arial, a sans serif typeface, for reports and proposals. However, if the document requires extensive reading, it would be better to use a serif typeface as the reader will be more comfortable and the words will be better absorbed by the reader.

Some terminology and their meanings:

Kearning refers to the spacing between the characters, however the letters themselves are unchanged.

Tracking affects whole lines of text. It tightens or stretches the characters and the spaces between them. If used correctly it can get rid of the gappy effect some fonts have, but it can also cause unevenness, which will be distracting to the reader.

Line spacing is not limited to single spaced or double spaced documents and is very important. If spacing is too wide then readability decreases. If spacing is too tight it causes eyes strain. The amount of space between the lines is called “leading” as many years ago the lines were separated by strips of lead. The proper way to set line spacing, which gives the best result for reading, is to set the leading for type about 2.0-2.3 points greater than the type size. For example, if the type size is 12 point then the leading will be 14-14.3 points.

Type Layout

Layout of type is essential for design of a publication. It is the way the reader views the document or book at first glance. It can determine if the reader will continue because they must find it appealing to the eys, pleasing to read to read on. If not, they will move on to another book. This may not be a conscious decision.

Headings: The publishing industry is divided in whether full caps should be used in headings and headlines. Headings are used to introduce a section of text. Headlines are used to make a statement or attract attention, but can still be used to introduce text. Generally, it is best to use upper and lower case for readability but all caps can sometimes have a stronger impact value. It comes down to personal preference.

Subheadings: In contrast, subheadings should generally be in lower case, with only the first letter capitalised.

Body Text: This is always in lower case — excluding proper punctuation, of course.

Drop Capitals: These are popular in magazines and newspapers, and some books also use them. They can enhance the layout and draw the eye to a point on the page.

Line Lengths: The best readability line length is about 12 words per line. A person’s attention span is limited so it is important to keep this in mind when planning a book layout.

Mixed Typefaces: Avoid using too many typefaces as it can become chaotic and slow the reader down. It is generally better to use one typeface for text and one for headings.

Blocks of Capitals: These should be avoided as it reduces readability a great deal. Only use all caps for headings and headlines to achieve impact, if required.

Bold and Underline: It is considered bad practice to use bold and underling together and should be avoided at all costs.

Editing Course: Book Publishing and Design

Unit 3 of the course is mainly theory. Luckily for me I worked as an Office Manager for a printing company for five years so I have a good understanding of the content. And, as it happens, G is a printer by trade so if I don’t understand anything I can ask him to clarify things for me.

Here are my notes:

Unit 3, Topic 1: Book Publishing and Design

Taking a book from the raw manuscript through to the finished product is a time-consuming process. It is important that the publisher/self-publisher understands the stages involved.

There may be extensive marketing research prior to starting a non-fiction book to ensure there is a market for the book.

Other questions will include the size of the publication, the format it will take (ie digital, paperback, hardcover), the length of the book, the potential audience and the retail price.

The design of the interior and exterior are also critical. These details need to suit the audience and must be reader-friendly.


This means to copy something so that it imitates or resembles the original.

The stages from creation to printing is as follows:

1. The document is created by the author.
2. The document passes through the pre-press stages.
3. The document is printed (or reproduced).

These stages are pretty basic, but there are a number of aspects to each of them. Some of them can overlap.

Naturally, the author will take care of step 1 and the substantive editor, copyeditor and proofreader will help revise and refine the work until it is as best as it can be.

Step 2, pre-press, refers to everything done prior to printing. This includes book design (cover, layout, typography, formatting, punctuation, images and illustrations), colour corrections and separations, proofing, conversion and whatever else needs to be done.

Step 3, printing, covers the printing stage, including print runs, paper used, method of printing, cost and binding type.

More on the Pre-Press Stage

Graphics and Illustrations

The following is a rough guide for resolution required for graphics in publication. DPI stands for “dots per inch”.

  • Websites require images to be 72dpi for on-screen viewing and 72-150dpi for ebook printing.
  • Newspapers and in-house publications require graphics to be 72-150dpi.
  • Magazines and colour advertisements require resolutions to be at least 150dpi.
  • Professional publications and brochures require resolution to be 300dpi.
  • Large posters and displays require resolutions of 600dpi or more.

Graphics can be captured using a digital camera or flat-bed scanner but for more professional publication, the images may need to be sent to a digital pre-press studio for high resolution scanning.

Proof Checking

Throughout the entire process the book will undergo several rounds of revision by a copyeditor and proofreader. If the book needs indexing, this can be a detailed and time-consuming process.

If proofs are printed in-house on a laser printer, they are referred to as page proofs (formally galley proofs).

Once the copy is finalised, it is sent to the printer for laying up (imposition) and the printer will make up a set of proofs. These proof sheets, set up as economically as possible, will be 4 up or 6 up on an A3 or larger sheet (it varies depending on paper size and finished print size).

The first set of proofs (master proof) will need to be thoroughly checked. The second set (revised proof) and any other set will only be checked to ensure corrections previously marked up have been taken up.

Some things to check, other than the content itself, are:

  • Top and bottom margin (also known as head and foot) – ensure they are consistent.
  • Inner and outer margins (also known as back and foredge) – the inner margin forms the gutter and may need extra space for binding.
  • Folio (also known as page number) – make sure they are consecutive and that odd page numbers fall on the pages on the right (recto) and even numbers fall on pages on the left (verso). This is also known as “pagination”.
  • Page headers and footers (also known as running heads and running feet) – ensure they are consistent.
  • By-line (the name of the author) – make sure the name and spelling is correct.
  • Bio (biography of author) – if included, make sure it is correct and is exactly how the author provided it.

More on the Printing Stage


Once the master proof or revised proof has been finalised and signed off, the job will progress to the printing stage.

If printing is to be done externally it is common practice to get three quotes. Printing costs can vary considerably depending on the job and requirements.

Things to be considered are method of printing, number of copies required, layout and paper. Colour printing will always be more expensive than black and white printing. Specialty papers will also be more expensive. As will satin art paper or semi gloss. The requirements will depend on the project. For example, a picture book usually required coated paper due to young children and their sticky fingers whereas a novel for adults would not have this requirement.

Differences in absorbency of the paper can also make a difference to the final product and this must be considered too.

Book Binding

There are a few options:

  • perfect binding
  • stapled binding
  • looseleaf binding
  • case binding

Perfect binding is when the pages are glued to a card stock cover that is wrapped around them. Most paperbacks use this method.

Stapled binding is when the pages are printed double sided and stapled together, often with a card cover and backing sheet. This method is used for tutorials and documents with less than 100 pages.

Looseleaf binding is when a person uses a method such as spiral binding, comb binding and ring binding. The pages actually remain separate.

Case binding is usually labour intensive and quite expensive. Methods used are hand binding, saddle-stitching and other prestige binding methods.

Book Promotion and Distribution

Once printed and bound, the book must then be marketed and distributed.

Many publishers and self-publishers have a marketing campaign…and budget! The extent of the campaign will largely depend on the budget available. Marketing can include advertisement on TV, radio and in newspapers and magazines. Or more traditionally the publisher/author will arrange book readings, book tours, author interviews and create a solid web presence. They will also use marketing material such as leaflets and bookmarks.

Distribution can be taken on by the publisher and self-publisher or they may decide to out source the work to a book distributor. Again, this will largely depend on finances.