Copy Editor vs. Copyeditor

Like every good Canadian editor, I keep the Canadian Oxford Dictionary at hand to confirm spellings and definitions, and the COD spells my profession as copy editor. Ironically, everywhere I look, this term is spelled inconsistently — sometimes as one word and sometimes as two. The Chicago Manual of Style uses copyeditor, and thus so do many American publications. Here’s a good article from the Baltimore Sun that points out that it doesn’t matter how copy editor is spelled because as a profession it’s on its way out — touché!

In the comments section for the article, a reader posts that he calls himself a “content editor,” thus avoiding the controversy altogether and giving the profession a needed update in the process. I’ve described myself similarly on LinkedIn — as someone who transforms content.

I kinda like the fact that the term copy editor has variant spellings. Accepting variations is apt for a profession that should keep abreast of the culture and be flexible with language and style. Instead of being confused about the spelling of copy editor, let the term remind us of the care and adaptability we exemplify as we work with text.


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Filed under future of publishing, spelling

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