I adopt a three-pronged approach to copy-editing:
- taking care of the basics of spelling, punctuation and grammar
- ensuring consistency of the text in all respects, such as general styling and punctuation, use of abbreviations and technical terminology, heading level hierarchy and structure of tables, so that the reader is never distracted or annoyed
- ensuring clarity of expression so that the intended reader will be able to understand the text on first reading; I feel that if a reader ever has to read a sentence a second time to be able to grasp the intended meaning or if there are any lingering ambiguities, I will have failed in my role as copy-editor.
I particularly enjoy handling both the copy-editing and the typesetting on a project, as then I can ensure that the Word file is rigorously cleaned up and styled prior to importing into InDesign. This makes the typesetting process much smoother, saving me time and my client money.
My system is PC-based, with Microsoft Word 2010 and 2013, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat.
I will occasionally consider taking on a fixed-fee project, particularly for typesetting, though I much prefer an hourly rate charging structure (with different rates for copy-editing and for typesetting). All my long-term clients have been happy to move at some point to a simple hourly rate model if they weren’t that way from the start.