Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

17 May
Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

In the first article in this series, we looked at what copy-typing is, the formats it comes in and how to price a copy-typing job. In this article, I will share some of the things I’ve learned doing a couple of large copy-typing projects.

I should say here that it’s not very common for me to get copy-typing projects to do – but when I get them, although they’re hard work, they are usually very interesting and rewarding.

Here are my main hints and tips:

1. Ergonomics, ergonomics, ergonomics

Copy-typing is hard work, especially if you are not used to typing a lot, for long periods of time.

If you’re usually an editor or do other mouse work, do have a careful think about the effect that pounding a keyboard will have on your shoulders, neck and back.

If you do a transcription as part of your job (like I do), you will be more used to typing fast for long periods of time.

I wrote a piece on ergonomics for transcribers a while ago – pop over and read that as it will give you some good pointers.

In summary:

  • Take care to sit up straight with a relaxed posture and level forearms
  • Arrange your chair, desk and keyboard so you’re not hunching or looking up at the screen with a bent neck
  • If your original is in a PDF or a set of images, try to use a screen where you can see it and your page on Word side by side to avoid switching between then, and large enough that you are not straining your eyes
  • If your original is on paper, get a document holder and position it by your monitor to give the same effect as having it on the screen and to avoid bending your head constantly to look at a flat sheet of paper
  • Take regular breaks to stretch, refocus and walk around

When you are quoting for how long a copy-typing job will take, factor in rest-breaks. It’s very difficult to type solidly for multiple hours at a time, and your quality will suffer.

2. Check what the client wants you to do

Does your client want you to type EXACTLY what is on the page in front of you, or do they want you to edit and smooth it out as you go along? I’ve been asked for both, so don’t assume – always ask.

If you are asked to type the document as an exact copy of the original, make sure that you type what you see and not what you want to see – you will need to include any odd phrasing, punctuation or spelling. In one of my jobs, the original writer introduced most quotations with a colon or no comma at all, where I am used to seeing a comma, and I had to be very careful to type as they typed.

3. Decide (with your client) how to deal with corrections and annotations

Many typescripts can have hand-written annotations, or maybe you’re copy-typing a written manuscript that has changes made by the author or another person. How should you deal with those?

First of all, discuss this with your client, as they may have firm ideas of how they want you to handle this.

I worked out a creative and great way to handle the hand-written annotations (including parts that were crossed out, extra parts that were added, asterisks with marginal annotations and paragraphs that needed to be moved) on one job: I typed out the typescript as normal, then turned on Track Changes and added all of the author’s annotations and marks in the appropriate places. Instead of the old type-written manuscript with hand-written corrections, we then had the modern version: a word-processed manuscript with amendments made using Tracked Changes. This worked very well.

In this article I’ve shared my three top copy-typing tips. Do you have any more? Do share them using the comments!

Related articles on this blog

What is copy-typing?

Copy-typing hints and tips 1: What it is, what it looks like and how to charge


Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Copy-typing



5 responses to “Copy-typing hints and tips 2: How do I do copy-typing work?

  1. Carl D'Agostino

    May 17, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    I have done some reviews for a few authors. At first I was grateful to have been solicited and did not charge but it is work and interrupts my daily routine to read their novel. I proof read and send a list of suggestions reading say 100 pages at a time and email my suggested corrections along the lines of: p 5 line 23 – fix this, p 56 line 57 – fix this, p 123 line 17 – fix this. Also spelling, check facts, grammar and sentence structure. Then may make suggestions about the characters and story flow.

    Usually they send hard copy as their book has already been published. For most their editors (alleged) have done a very poor job. They should have sent manuscript before publishing. If the book is full of dozens and dozens of errors I stop reading and correcting and notify the author that book is so full of errors and story sucked I decline doing a review at all as it would be very embarrassing for them. Others with fewer errors, of which I notify the author, I will review on the nature of the story. I am not computer savvy enough to use the programs you note and will do hard copy but instead I think it easier to make margin notes and send back the book instead of emailing error report as indicated above. I suppose it is then up to the author and publisher how and when they will make corrections, perhaps a second edition and stop manufacturing the first ? I have limited time for this and tell the author I will have a complete evaluation in three weeks.

    I have two BA’s and 2 MA’s and was a high school history teacher for 33 years and have taught a lot of teens how to write the term papers and essays for their college career. Often I have to “unteach” what their English teachers have taught. Seems English teachers of last two decades have spent their college course work on alternative literature and literature of gender or of minority authors and their particular issues and know nothing about the classics or grammar.

    Since I’ve spent three decades correcting papers I feel comfortable with my ability which is certainly better than what their proof readers and editors have provided. I am not doing this for free anymore but if I do correct hard copy with notations and margins notes in the future how much should I charge ? A free copy of the book for a review request is insulting and certainly with correcting errors as part of my offering is worth some money. I think $500 is cheap but authors balk at that.

    I am retired and have social security and pension so I don’t really need the income as not a way of earning a living for me. The extra money goes to principal on my mortgage building an estate for my children.


    • Liz Dexter

      May 17, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story of how you deal with being asked to read and review novels, Carl, although you might have clicked on a different post to the one you intended to reply to, as this one is about copy-typing … Let me know if you need me to move it for you.

      There is much debate on charging for copy-editing and proofreading; most people charge a per-word rate and if you look at discussions on Facebook or the Society for Editors and Proofreaders you will find suggestions on pricing there. Many self-published authors just can’t afford/justify professional editing fees, unfortunately, even though that work will make their books more attractive to readers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don Massenzio

    May 18, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Here is another great post from the Libro Editing blog on the topic of copy typing work

    Liked by 1 person


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