OpenTutorial:How to copy-edit
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This page refers to copy-editing an existing OpenTutorial page. Copy-editing deals with correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, and extends to rephrasing for improvements in tone, style and voice. The term copy-editing comes from organizations that deal with printed media; it is loosely applied here. The author and the copy editor are often the same person on OpenTutorial pages.
When you copy-edit a page, you are helping the author and OpenTutorial to express ideas in the most clear and accurate way possible. You are also improving the credibility of the project and its articles. Mistakes, whether blatant or trivial, simply look bad and should be corrected as soon as possible.
Discussion and talk pages are much less formal and generally should not be copy-edited. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a comment, make it. Resist the temptation to modify someone's talk or discussion page entry in the name of grammar or style.
For general page editing help see Help:editing.
Articles that need copy-editing
- Category:OpenTutorial articles needing copy edit (articles so tagged)
- OpenTutorial:Cleanup (unsorted requests for copy-editing and other cleanup)
- OpenTutorial:Typo (systematic fixing of mistakes)
- OpenTutorial:Pages needing attention (cleanup requests sorted by topic)
If you see any mistakes, please correct them (even if they are very minor typos). This greatly helps with making OpenTutorial look as professional as possible. The Google toolbar has a spell-checker for web fields which can be used (along with human observation) to efficiently spell-check articles.
Note that the English form of OpenTutorial has no preference for American, British, or other forms of English so long as usage is consistent for the whole page. Check the rest of the page before assuming that flavour, colour, metre, or defence (or, on the other hand, flavor, color, meter, or defense) is a mistake. Note that the endings "-ize" and "-ization" are acceptable in both British and American English. The suffix -ise is more common in Commonwealth usage than -ize, but both spellings are correct. The use of -ize/-ise should remain consistent within a page.
Commonly required copy-edits
See also sections: These should be of the long form if relevant to the majority of the article, and of the short form if relevant only to a specific section.
Words which are mentioned rather than used should be italicized. For example: "The term style can refer to the layout and context of an article."
Headings should generally be nouns (History) and not prepositional phrases (About the history of...), and have only a single capital letter (apart from proper nouns, etc).
Headings should be in sentence case. For example: Differences in defining art.
Titles of works (art, literature, etc.) should be italicized rather than placed in quotes. For example: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Shortened word forms (don't, can't, etc.) should be corrected where not in quotations.
Constructions such as "London, England" call for a comma or other appropriate punctuation at the end. Similarly, the year is also set off with punctuation, as in "June 10, 1993", when dates are written in the American style of writing the day between the month and the year.
External links generally belong at the end of an article under a heading titled External links or External link. References are an exception and should match the link in the reference section; these are then handled automatically.
When you make a copy-edit, be sure to leave a note in the Summary field detailing what changes you made. Summary notes for copy-edits should be short and concise and mention that the edit in question is a correction or enhancement. Spelling and grammar corrections generally count as minor edits; stylistic corrections generally do not.
Example summary notes:
copy-edit: Corrected minor typo
copy-edit: Reworded introductory paragraph for clarity
copy-edit: Reworked history section for more encyclopedic style
Reworked awful English, corrected author's bad language skills (see Etiquette section below)
Reworked pitiful excuse for English. Is the author retarded or something? My five-year-old child can spell better than that!'
Your summary note should be concise and roughly detail the change (the history and differences will show detailed information if needed.)
For common summary-note abbreviations, see OpenTutorial:Edit summary legend.
If you are taking the trouble to copy-edit a page, please remember that the original author took the trouble to write a new page for OpenTutorial and that however good or bad it is, the article is probably a valuable contribution. Your summary note should be concise and polite.
If you are the author of a page that has been copy-edited, please try not to take corrections personally. This can be especially hard with stylistic differences. Copy-editors are usually trying to make the article better, which reflects well on both the original author and the copy-editor.
There are times when caution is advisable. A copyedit should address only technical aspects of spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Specialized or controversial topics may require specific wording for accuracy and NPOV. One solution is to solicit a copy-edit from an editor with expertise in the subject. Another good alternative is to post potential copy-edits to the talk page for discussion so the article remains balanced and accurate while the copy-editor avoids the risk of prolonging a content dispute.
Just as some writers are better than others, some copy-editors are better than others. In extreme cases an impartial OpenTutorialn questions whether English is the editor's first language. If a variety of editors revert your copy-edits to several articles, then odds are that your changes have not been productive. Remember that copy-editing is a specific talent and many intelligent people are better at other things.
- OpenTutorial:Guide to improving articles
- OpenTutorial:Manual of Style
- OpenTutorial:Policies and guidelines
- copy-editing