Course: Processes, Conventions and Practices

As discussed previously the editor, copyeditor and proofreader use the same marks but in a slightly different way.

The three jobs are separate but are often overlapped.

1. The editor works with the author to make substantive changes to the manuscript (ie changes to characters, chapters, scenes, etc). This is NOT done so that the words are those of the editor’s. It is done to find weak scenes, bad grammar and inconsistencies within the story. It is also done so that the manuscript conforms to the publisher’s editorial styles. The marks are placed within the double-spaced lines.

2. The copyeditor works on the edited copy of the manuscript. It is usually still double-spaced so the marks are again placed between the lines instead of in the margin. The copyeditor does NOT make substantive suggestions, it is not their job to do so. It is their job to ensure all editing is changed from the previous copy and to ensure the best words are used. They also check for grammar, spelling, literals and inconsistencies in regard to style. Again, they do not make suggestions on how to improve the writing.

3. The proofreader must find and correct errors. All markups are done in the margin as the copy is now single-spaced. The proofreader is looking for errors that may have been missed by the author, editor and copyeditor. They are also making sure marked-up errors in the dead copy have been corrected in the live copy.


Processes are the steps taken to complete a task. In publishing, a publisher will have a preferred set of steps that will take a book from being a manuscript through to the final print.


Conventions are simply accepted standards of use that have been agreed upon across the industry. For instance, the proofreading marks used to mark up a manuscript is a globally accepted convention.

Conventions also include legal and moral conventions, such as copyright, privacy laws, authors’ moral rights and industry standards.

Within publishing there is a law that states every published book must include the publisher’s name and address in the front matter, traditionally on the reverse page of the title page.

Also, every work that is published for commercial sale must be lodged with the National Library and also with the relevant state library.

Legal conventions can be a minefield and it’s up to the publisher to know what is expected of them.


The term “practices” refers to the usual way in which things are done, the manner in which a task is undertaken. For instance, the preferred colour of pen used when editing, copyediting or proofreading.

Practices are often preferences developed by a person, a group of people or an organisation.

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