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Manuscript Copyediting

• Expertise • Scope
• Preliminary Manuscript Scrubbing
• Method • Author's Next Steps


Lynette M. Smith is proficient in copyediting most types of fiction and nonfiction manuscripts (with the exception of poetry, children's books, mathematical and other highly technical topics, and manuscripts that will require end notes.) You may enjoy viewing this 32-minute video podcast interview that tells you more.


Copyediting includes matters of spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, usage, and flow. While copyediting, Lynette also "wears the hat" of the target reader, so she can spot contradictions or recognize when passages don't communicate clearly to the intended audience.

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Preliminary Manuscript Scrubbing

To prepare your manuscript for copyediting, Lynette first performs document scrubbing, also known as basic formatting, to bring consistency to headings and subheadings, paragraph indents (if any) and justification (full or left), levels of headings and subheadings, line spacing, font treatments, and so on.

Cleaning up the formatting in this way holds two advantages: It prevents distractions from a quality copyedit, and later on it makes the layout professional's job easier, which could translate to a smaller layout fee. Manuscript scrubbing is billed by the hour, and a not-to-exceed (NTE) estimate is provided when quoting on the copyediting.

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Copyeditors who routinely read a manuscript twice must be compensated for their time. At All My Best, Lynette instead performs a single but thorough reading of your manuscript, which usually saves you money.

Lynette uses Microsoft Word's Track Changes feature to mark suggested additions and deletions and to leave comments and author queries as margin comments. She provides you with both a marked (Track Changes) copy (click for example) and a clean copy (click for example) in which all proposed additions and deletions have been accepted and all comments have been deleted.

Note: After Lynette's thorough single-pass copyedit and your subsequent acceptance of marked suggestions and minor rewrites, a handful of content errors will exist, such as two periods at the end of a sentence, or a duplicate word, such as "the the." That's one reason it's important, before publication is authorized, to have a professional proofreader (Lynette or someone else) review and read it, to assure that all such lingering errors are detected and corrected to the extent humanly possible.

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Author's Next Steps

When you receive your copyedited files, decide whether you want to work with the marked (Track Changes) version or the Clean version. If you want to work with the marked version but are not already familiar with using Track Changes to accept or reject either individual proposed additions and deletions or a whole section of them at a time, Lynette will be happy to explain how to use Track Changes efficiently. Alternatively, you may view the 12-minute video, How to Use Track Changes in Microsoft Word. If you prefer, however, you may work with the clean copyedited version instead.

Important: If you've decided to work with the clean version, it's vital that you at least review the marked (Track Changes) version so you know what changes took place in the clean copy. If you don't agree with a particular change in the clean copy, you can always change it back yourself.

At this stage, too – especially after having read the margin comments and queries in the Track Changes version – you may choose to rewrite certain sentences or passages. This is the stage where new errors may creep in. To insure against that possibility, simply yellow-highlight those rewritten sections and then send the manuscript back to Lynette to copyedit just those highlighted areas. (This supplemental time is billed by the hour.)

After you review those supplemental Track Changes edits and generate your newly revised best effort at a final draft, your manuscript will be ready for layout and cover design by a book-layout professional (also known as a graphic artist or book designer).

Contact ALL MY BEST Today!

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80 Common Layout Errors to Flag When Proofreading Book Interiors

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"This handbook is amazing. I am doing a great deal of formatting these days, and the words resonate with me. I have encountered many of the issues mentioned, and plan to buy the [paperback] book and keep it handy so I can help my clients by providing the best possible proofreading and formatting." —Judy Vorfeld

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