1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Crash Course in Copy Editing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by rolling, May 19, 2007.

  1. rolling

    rolling Member

    My internship this summer is requiring me to work on the desk. The paper is short a copy editor, and I have no problem jumping in and helping where I can. Problem is, I have no experience copy editing. None. I'm fairly familiar with the AP Stylebook, and I feel confident I can structure sentences and catch spelling errors. I'm excited to learn these new ropes, though I'm sure I'll take my share of bumps. I think it will make me a better writer, and, if nothing else, I think it will boost my resume.

    Frankly, though, I'm not sure what I'm in for.

    I start in two weeks and could use any advice, tips and/or knowledge any of you would like to share to prepare me for what's to come.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    You're hired!
  3. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    Some things that might be helpful:

    1. Study the AP style book inside and out. Take one hour out for each letter, and try to learn everything you can. Take notes, try to quiz yourself and work on memorizing certain things you'll have to use often. Set an alarm clock and really hold yourself to working for an hour and trying to get everything you can out of it. And hey, there's a neat surprise ending ... XYZ are all lumped together.

    2. Take AP style quizzes online, just to see how you are progressing. A simple Google search will pull up AP quiz sites.

    3. Give yourself a refresher course on grammar. Again, there's tons of helpful grammar sites online. It's important to learn how to pick sentences apart and to know the basics. Know the difference between an independent and dependent clause. This will help you learn where to place commas and will help you determine if a sentence is a fragment or not. If it's not a fragment, it's either a compound sentence, a complex sentence, or a compound-complex sentence. Know the differences.

    4. Read, read, read. Surf the Web and check out different newspapers online. Read a variety of different articles ... gamers, features, in-depth stories, hard news stories, etc. Pay specific attention to detail and structure.

    5. Never stop.
  4. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    a pet peeve of mine - learn when to use "that" vs. when to use "which." "which" isn't meant to use just to break up the monotony of "that."
  5. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    While we're at it, don't use "that" 3425 times, either. There's numerous times where the word "that" can be removed in a story. It is often unnecessary.
  6. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    Talk to the other copy editors to gain some insight and LISTEN to them!
  7. imjustagirl2

    imjustagirl2 New Member

    As far as the actual desking, one suggestion: Read the story once over, then close it out. Go do something else (read another story,s kim the stylebook, throw paperwads at coworkers) then go back to the story. Re-read it, make the changes you see. Close it out again. Read it a third time, fixing anything you may have missed.

    You will not believe how many things you catch that you didn't see the first two times through.
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Read Boom's posts.
  9. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    If you can catch factual errors, you will impress people who have never seen this kind of editing -- and most desks do this haphazardly, only when something doesn't look right. The busiest desk I worked on was the most rigorous about fact-checking -- the deal was, if you wouldn't bet your paycheck that something was right and you were able to look it up, do it. Names, scores, stats, dates.

    For learning how to tighten and improve copy, I'd recommend William Zinsser's "On Writing Well." It's not specifically for copy editors, but there's a lot of great stuff there.


    There are some online courses in editing here. I don't know if they're any good, but editing guru Kenn Finkel teaches one on headlines:

  10. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Oh, and good stuff here from the Detroit Free Press' in-house training:

  11. txsportsscribe

    txsportsscribe Active Member

    no offense at all intended, i'm just wondering what kind of place you work where you have the time to use this approach. i'm jealous.
  12. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    If your staff edits in "notes mode", look at stories OTHER people have edited.

    It will train you to write (and think) tighter and more clearly. And it will give you an idea of what mistakes each writer consistently makes.

    Most places have more time than they realize. Many just tend to use it sending IMs or surfing the net or watching the last five minutes of that Suns-Spurs game.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page