What do editors mean when they say "copy edit"? Different editors have different ideas about what a copy edit entails. You may hear them say they include stylistic editing, line editing, structural editing, etc. The bottom line: you should have a clear understanding of what is going to happen before you sign an editorial agreement.
What should you expect from a copy edit? A copy edit cleans up mistakes in grammar and punctuation, and comments on (or fixes) a wide variety of other issues, including problems with logic, word usage, consistency, style, and tone, all while maintaining the author's voice and intention. It's an intense process. If anyone tells you they'll have your 85,000-word manuscript copy edited by the next day, run the other way! A copy edit of that size should take a few weeks, depending on the level of edit required.
What will I do for you?
use MSWord Track Changes, so you'll be able to see all my changes and either accept or reject them.
comment regularly so that you know why I’m suggesting changes.
keep a style sheet to ensure consistency throughout your work (e.g., Do not use quotation marks for characters' thoughts. Set in italics instead).
correct errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but make exceptions as necessary (e.g., in fiction).
make all spellings consistent (e.g., "towards" not "toward"; both are correct, but only one should be used throughout your work).
ensure that the proper spelling is being used depending on where you live (e.g., American spellings for an American audience).
fix problems with word usage, being particularly aware of words that are commonly confused (e.g., farther, further).
make changes to paragraphs, sentences, and words to clarify meaning. If big changes are required, I will make suggestions in a comment and leave the changes up to you.
simplify long or complicated sentences, choose active over passive voice in most cases, and ensure that structure is parallel.
make or suggest changes to reduce wordiness and repetition of terms and phrases.
comment on problems with logic and suggest changes.
notice inconsistencies in characters (including the narrator) and suggest changes.
tighten dialogue and point out inconsistencies in voice and tone.
In non-fiction work I also will ensure the following:
tables, graphs, or any visual elements are clearly and consistently labelled and effectively convey the intended meaning.
paragraphs have a clear topic sentence and logical flow.
transitions between sentences and between paragraphs are smooth and support the text as a whole.
elements are ordered logically (e.g., bullets in a list, components of a website).
language and reading level are appropriate for the intended audience (e.g., simplifying technical terms where necessary and using jargon consistently and effectively).
data, historical facts, quotations, etc. are correct.
website links are active and accurate.
cross-reference information from links, tables of contents, and other auxiliary materials are correct.