How to Become a Copy Editor

How to Become a Copy Editor

Copy editors spend a lot of time looking over written material for publications. While this involves basic proofreading skills, the role of a copy editor also involves a great understanding of grammar, style guides, and how to write well. To start your copy-editing journey, work on your writing and editing skills while pursuing a degree. Gain some experience by becoming a tutor, working for a small newspaper or magazine, or taking an internship. Then, polish your resume and create a portfolio to help you land a job in the industry.

Method 1 of 3:
Getting the Proper Background

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Pursue an undergraduate degree in English or journalism. Enroll in a program centered around English, journalism, or communications so you can learn valuable skills specific to a writing or editing career path. While your classes will vary depending on the school you attend, all schools will provide you with a firm background in writing and grammar. When you attend college, you end up with a professional skill set that future employers will be on the lookout for. [1] X Research source If you don’t want to travel to a university, consider enrolling in an online program, or taking classes at your local community college.
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2
Read through different style guides to get familiar with grammar and formatting rules. Depending on the career, there are a variety of different style guides that you might run into. If you’re angling for a copy editing career in journalism, take some time to read through the AP Stylebook. For those looking at more academic copy editing positions, take a look at APA, Chicago, Harvard, and other scholarly style guides. [2] X Research source Many of these style guides are available for purchase online.
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3
Practice using different word processors and photo editing software. On your own time, try creating a variety of documents using word processors like Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. Future employers like to see candidates with a lot of technological experience, so you can really set yourself apart by improving your skills with common applications that copy editors use. Additionally, practice applying basic edits to random pictures that you find online; depending on the job, you might have to do a lot of photo editing. [3] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Even as a copy editor, you’ll have to understand how to format documents and images properly. Some software companies will give you a discount on their products if you’re a student.
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4
Develop your reading and writing skills on a regular basis. Find some professional publications, like a newspaper or magazine, and read from them as often as you can. You can gain a lot of insight into what good writing looks like by reading lots of high-quality articles. When you have some free time, try and write a newspaper article or professional document of your own. [4] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Look here for some great writing prompt ideas: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/learning/over-1000-writing-prompts-for-students.html
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Enroll in a graduate program to expand your qualifications. If you’d like to angle for a higher salary in the future, try looking online for different graduate opportunities. For those looking to hone their skills in a specific field, a Master’s degree might be a great option. Determine ahead of time what you’d like to focus on in a program before applying to any schools. [5] X Research source If you don’t have the time to be a student full-time, consider getting a graduate degree on a part-time basis.
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Get a technical or scientific degree to get more advanced jobs. Potentially boost your salary by developing a background in a different field. Since many copy editing positions pertain to a specific field of science or engineering, you could bring a lot to the employment table by having a Master’s or doctoral degree in science or another technical field. [6] X Research source While technical writing positions focus more on copywriting, they also require someone with a great background in copy editing. If you have an advanced degree in science or another technical field, you’ll be able to stand out more.
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Method 2 of 3:
Gaining Experience

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1
Look for tutoring positions at your school. Ask around at your school’s library or tutoring center to see if there are any positions open for writing or grammar assistance. You can get a lot of great experience working with other students and pointing out some grammatical or stylistic errors in their writing. While an actual copy-editing position will be much more independent, tutoring is a great first step to improving your own efficiency at noticing errors in a work of writing. [7] X Research source Check online for tutoring positions if you can’t find any openings in-person. Many tutoring companies have online programs.
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2
Join the school newspaper if you’re a student. Check out your school’s student newspaper and see if they need any writers or editors. Since all newspaper content needs to be edited before it can be published, you might be able to get some valuable insight and experience in the copy-editing field. [8] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source

Tip: Ask the Editor-in-Chief if there are any section editor positions open. Managing and editing an entire column is a great way to hone both your copy editing and formatting skills.

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3
Apply for internships with magazines and newspapers. See if any local newspapers or magazines are hiring paid or unpaid interns to assist with the publication process. While an unpaid internship isn’t ideal, you can still get a lot of valuable insight and experience through the position. Keep in mind that most internships are short-term, and are best used to bolster your resume or portfolio. [9] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source You might not find an internship that fits your exact interests, and that’s okay! Look for positions that give you experience in the overall copy-editing process instead.
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Method 3 of 3:
Finding a Job

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1
Create a portfolio and resume that displays your experience. Update your resume to include all of your writing and editing achievements, like your college degree. Be sure to include other valuable work experiences, like internships and part-time positions you’ve held. Try to cater your resume to the copy-editing field as much as possible to make your portfolio stand out above the rest. [10] X Research source Resumes are a great place to list which styles you’re proficient in. Be sure to mention which word processors and other software that you’re most proficient in.
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2
Opt for a freelance career if you’d like to work from home. Don’t feel like you have to search for a full-time position right away! Instead, join one of many online communities dedicated to freelance contract work. While freelance copy-editing involves bidding against other editors for jobs, you can make a decent living if you are accepted and hired to edit a consistent amount of work. [11] X Research source Sites like Guru and UpWork are great places to start looking for freelance editing work.

Tip: As you gain more professional experience, don’t be afraid to raise your rates.

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3
Look for part-time jobs if you want to ease your way into copy-editing. Ease yourself into a copy editing career by looking for smaller positions first. Search for job openings such as publishing and editorial assistants, as these will give you a lot of insight into the editing field without all of the responsibility of a full-time position. [12] X Research source Don’t underestimate your qualifications! Know what you’re worth when you go to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that the salary will likely be a lot lower for these positions than other copy editing jobs.
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4
Search online for job openings in editing and communications. Look for full-time or contract positions with a heavy emphasis on copy-editing and proofreading. While you might not find a job that solely involves copy editing, you might find several writing jobs that require a lot of editing experience. If you can’t find anything in the editing or communications fields alone, try looking into more specialized fields, like education or public management. [13] X Research source
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5
Look for jobs in a nearby city to increase your prospects. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a lot of copy-editing jobs in suburban or rural areas. If you’re willing to make the move or commute, try looking into jobs that are based in a nearby city. Depending on the job market, you might find a lot of potential opportunities. [14] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Try expanding the location parameters on job sites, like Indeed or Glassdoor. Expand your job search to include different categories, like “Communications” and “Public Relations.”
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6
Apply for managerial jobs to become the leader in your workplace. Once you’ve gotten enough experience under your belt, start looking for job opportunities with higher pay and responsibility! Search for positions that center around management, like an Editor-in-Chief or Copy-Editor-in-Chief. When you apply for any high-level position, make sure to highlight any leadership experience you’ve had in the past, and how it makes you a great candidate for the job. [15] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source
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7
Submit your resume to potential employers. Send a digital or paper copy to different job openings, depending on what the company prefers. If you’re angling for a particular position, make sure that your resume is as specific as possible. Make sure that your resume or portfolio highlights exactly why you’d be a perfect fit for the job. [16] X Research source For example, if you’re applying to a local newspaper, mention any journalism internships or work you did with your school newspaper in the past.
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8
Highlight your qualifications during a job interview. Let your interviewer know that you’re a great fit for the copy-editing position by mentioning specific reasons and examples of your past work. When possible, mention aspects of the job listing that you identify with especially. While you don’t want to seem overzealous, try to have an optimistic, eager attitude when discussing a potential job. [17] X Research source For instance, you could say something like: “This copy-editing position matches with my past experience because I’ve worked with several newspaper publications.”
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Method 1 of 3:
Getting the Proper Background

Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 1
1
Pursue an undergraduate degree in English or journalism. Enroll in a program centered around English, journalism, or communications so you can learn valuable skills specific to a writing or editing career path. While your classes will vary depending on the school you attend, all schools will provide you with a firm background in writing and grammar. When you attend college, you end up with a professional skill set that future employers will be on the lookout for. [1] X Research source If you don’t want to travel to a university, consider enrolling in an online program, or taking classes at your local community college.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 2
2
Read through different style guides to get familiar with grammar and formatting rules. Depending on the career, there are a variety of different style guides that you might run into. If you’re angling for a copy editing career in journalism, take some time to read through the AP Stylebook. For those looking at more academic copy editing positions, take a look at APA, Chicago, Harvard, and other scholarly style guides. [2] X Research source Many of these style guides are available for purchase online.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 3
3
Practice using different word processors and photo editing software. On your own time, try creating a variety of documents using word processors like Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign. Future employers like to see candidates with a lot of technological experience, so you can really set yourself apart by improving your skills with common applications that copy editors use. Additionally, practice applying basic edits to random pictures that you find online; depending on the job, you might have to do a lot of photo editing. [3] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Even as a copy editor, you’ll have to understand how to format documents and images properly. Some software companies will give you a discount on their products if you’re a student.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 4
4
Develop your reading and writing skills on a regular basis. Find some professional publications, like a newspaper or magazine, and read from them as often as you can. You can gain a lot of insight into what good writing looks like by reading lots of high-quality articles. When you have some free time, try and write a newspaper article or professional document of your own. [4] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Look here for some great writing prompt ideas: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/12/learning/over-1000-writing-prompts-for-students.html
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 5
5
Enroll in a graduate program to expand your qualifications. If you’d like to angle for a higher salary in the future, try looking online for different graduate opportunities. For those looking to hone their skills in a specific field, a Master’s degree might be a great option. Determine ahead of time what you’d like to focus on in a program before applying to any schools. [5] X Research source If you don’t have the time to be a student full-time, consider getting a graduate degree on a part-time basis.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 6
6
Get a technical or scientific degree to get more advanced jobs. Potentially boost your salary by developing a background in a different field. Since many copy editing positions pertain to a specific field of science or engineering, you could bring a lot to the employment table by having a Master’s or doctoral degree in science or another technical field. [6] X Research source While technical writing positions focus more on copywriting, they also require someone with a great background in copy editing. If you have an advanced degree in science or another technical field, you’ll be able to stand out more.
Advertisement

Method 2 of 3:
Gaining Experience

Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 7
1
Look for tutoring positions at your school. Ask around at your school’s library or tutoring center to see if there are any positions open for writing or grammar assistance. You can get a lot of great experience working with other students and pointing out some grammatical or stylistic errors in their writing. While an actual copy-editing position will be much more independent, tutoring is a great first step to improving your own efficiency at noticing errors in a work of writing. [7] X Research source Check online for tutoring positions if you can’t find any openings in-person. Many tutoring companies have online programs.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 8
2
Join the school newspaper if you’re a student. Check out your school’s student newspaper and see if they need any writers or editors. Since all newspaper content needs to be edited before it can be published, you might be able to get some valuable insight and experience in the copy-editing field. [8] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source

Tip: Ask the Editor-in-Chief if there are any section editor positions open. Managing and editing an entire column is a great way to hone both your copy editing and formatting skills.

Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 9
3
Apply for internships with magazines and newspapers. See if any local newspapers or magazines are hiring paid or unpaid interns to assist with the publication process. While an unpaid internship isn’t ideal, you can still get a lot of valuable insight and experience through the position. Keep in mind that most internships are short-term, and are best used to bolster your resume or portfolio. [9] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source You might not find an internship that fits your exact interests, and that’s okay! Look for positions that give you experience in the overall copy-editing process instead.
Advertisement

Method 3 of 3:
Finding a Job

Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 10
1
Create a portfolio and resume that displays your experience. Update your resume to include all of your writing and editing achievements, like your college degree. Be sure to include other valuable work experiences, like internships and part-time positions you’ve held. Try to cater your resume to the copy-editing field as much as possible to make your portfolio stand out above the rest. [10] X Research source Resumes are a great place to list which styles you’re proficient in. Be sure to mention which word processors and other software that you’re most proficient in.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 11
2
Opt for a freelance career if you’d like to work from home. Don’t feel like you have to search for a full-time position right away! Instead, join one of many online communities dedicated to freelance contract work. While freelance copy-editing involves bidding against other editors for jobs, you can make a decent living if you are accepted and hired to edit a consistent amount of work. [11] X Research source Sites like Guru and UpWork are great places to start looking for freelance editing work.

Tip: As you gain more professional experience, don’t be afraid to raise your rates.

Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 12
3
Look for part-time jobs if you want to ease your way into copy-editing. Ease yourself into a copy editing career by looking for smaller positions first. Search for job openings such as publishing and editorial assistants, as these will give you a lot of insight into the editing field without all of the responsibility of a full-time position. [12] X Research source Don’t underestimate your qualifications! Know what you’re worth when you go to apply for jobs. Keep in mind that the salary will likely be a lot lower for these positions than other copy editing jobs.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 13
4
Search online for job openings in editing and communications. Look for full-time or contract positions with a heavy emphasis on copy-editing and proofreading. While you might not find a job that solely involves copy editing, you might find several writing jobs that require a lot of editing experience. If you can’t find anything in the editing or communications fields alone, try looking into more specialized fields, like education or public management. [13] X Research source
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 14
5
Look for jobs in a nearby city to increase your prospects. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a lot of copy-editing jobs in suburban or rural areas. If you’re willing to make the move or commute, try looking into jobs that are based in a nearby city. Depending on the job market, you might find a lot of potential opportunities. [14] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source Try expanding the location parameters on job sites, like Indeed or Glassdoor. Expand your job search to include different categories, like “Communications” and “Public Relations.”
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 15
6
Apply for managerial jobs to become the leader in your workplace. Once you’ve gotten enough experience under your belt, start looking for job opportunities with higher pay and responsibility! Search for positions that center around management, like an Editor-in-Chief or Copy-Editor-in-Chief. When you apply for any high-level position, make sure to highlight any leadership experience you’ve had in the past, and how it makes you a great candidate for the job. [15] X Trustworthy Source US Bureau of Labor Statistics U.S. government agency that collects and reports labor-related information Go to source
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 16
7
Submit your resume to potential employers. Send a digital or paper copy to different job openings, depending on what the company prefers. If you’re angling for a particular position, make sure that your resume is as specific as possible. Make sure that your resume or portfolio highlights exactly why you’d be a perfect fit for the job. [16] X Research source For example, if you’re applying to a local newspaper, mention any journalism internships or work you did with your school newspaper in the past.
Image titled Become a Copy Editor Step 17
8
Highlight your qualifications during a job interview. Let your interviewer know that you’re a great fit for the copy-editing position by mentioning specific reasons and examples of your past work. When possible, mention aspects of the job listing that you identify with especially. While you don’t want to seem overzealous, try to have an optimistic, eager attitude when discussing a potential job. [17] X Research source For instance, you could say something like: “This copy-editing position matches with my past experience because I’ve worked with several newspaper publications.”
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