Copy editor quick start

Thank you for volunteering your valuable time to contribute to the T. F. Torrance Theological Fellowship by working on the Participatio editorial team!

We are so thankful you are helping us out! Volunteers are the backbone of any professional society, but especially for one that produces a peer-reviewed online journal. Copy editing is one of the chief bottlenecks in the production of any journal issue. Normally, publishing companies allocate much time and salaried money to copy editing, but for an academic society that does not mandate expensive membership dues that is not an option for us. We rely on volunteers like you! Thank you!

To help you get started as a copy editor, this page will orient you to some of the most important aspects of the editorial workflow. Refer back to this page again just as a refresher. Let us know how to make it more clear and helpful. Thank you for your patience.

First check out the Style Guide and the Participatio Editor Quick Start. Essential info on those pages will not be repeated here. 

Copy editing is based primarily and almost exclusively on the Style Guide. The issue editor, rather than the copy editor, has discretion over contributors’ writing styles for anything not specified in the Style Guide. Generally, it is good if contributors write in their own styles, which will vary from context to context, country to country, institution to institution, and person to person.

Your role as a copy editor is to make sure that each contribution scrupulously adheres to the Style Guide for Participatio. Memorize the Style Guide like the back of your hand. Become familiar with paragraph styles and how they work in a word processor, and the other matters dealt with on the Editor Quick Start page.

What is Copy Editing? How does it differ from peer review, and from the issue editors' review?

Peer review and review by the issue editors pertains to the content, evidence, and argument of the paper. None of that is the purview of the copy editor. You may wish to pretend you know nothing of theology or of the issue subject matter in order to focus more clearly on the tasks of copy editing.

As a copy editor, with whom will I be working?

You may be working directly with the author. Indeed, authors are encouraged to hire graduate students to copy edit and format their articles.

As a copy editor, you will also be working with the editors supervising a particular issue -- the issue or volume editors. They in turn work with the general editor Todd Speidell. You may also be in communication with the production editors, Kerry Magruder and Brent Purkaple.

Do you have any tips for how to understand the copy editing role and how to be a better copy editor?

For a provocative and insightful opinion piece, check out Jeff Reimer, "The World Through a Copy Editor's Eyes," The Bulwark, January 20, 2023. Reimer asserts:

"Copyediting and proofreading come into play nearer to the end: They are the finish carpentry of the publishing process. The house is already built.... novice copyeditors often need to be induced to give up their notion that every book needs to be perfect.... A copyeditor does not formally participate in the intellectual life. He or she is, rather, its adjunct and custodian. A good copyeditor therefore knows when to stop editing, has refined the skill of refraining from the conversation, and knows when not to get involved (which is almost always) in the ideas and the argument. I had been in the book business for a couple years before I realized that at many publishers, copyeditors work in the production department rather than editorial... A remarkable education is available to an attentive eavesdropper. While I value the training I received for my degrees, I got my real education copyediting."

Well, we think copyediting may complement the writing life quite well, but Reimer's point that they are separate and distinct is very well taken. Trust the issue editors and the peer reviewers to do their jobs, and then the essential work of copy editing still remains. Journals can't get published without it. The copy editors are the unsung heroes of the publication workflow. Without them, the result is not professional. Please volunteer for this job, and we will thank you! Everything depends on you.