Technological evolution has led to some of the greatest innovations throughout history, and over the past few decades, this evolution seems to have accelerated. It has literally touched every aspect of life, and while students, marketers and business owners might not realize it, technology has even had a profound effect on copy editing. Only after understanding this evolution can a person recognize the importance of copy editing technology.
The Evolution of Copy Editing
Copy editing was once done in dimly lit offices long before newspapers landed on people's doorsteps. With the advent of online news and other digital content, though, it must often be done in an expedient manner in an effort to beat competitors. While the internet is the largest technological advancement to change copy editing, it's certainly not the only one.
The Effect of the Internet on Copy Editing
Copy editing is more than proofreading. It also entails making sure that content is clear and concise. Whether someone needs marketing content or fact-checking, the ability to find a professional copy editor at a moment's notice exists. Instead of finding an expensive local copy editor or having one on staff, people can reach professional editors around the country for a relatively low price.
It should also be noted that the rise of the internet made things a little more difficult in some respects. Copy editors who did the job before the internet, for instance, never had to worry about HTML and hyperlinks. They now have to ensure that these are correct before approving content.
Copy editors for businesses and news organizations must also contend with global competition. In the 1950s, people had one local newspaper to get content from. Now, individuals have thousands of options in whatever they're looking for. This means copy editors must also focus on making content appealing to the eye, through lists, headers and appropriate font styles, so consumers won't opt for another site's content.
Multitude of Images
Copy editing also saw major changes thanks to the advent of digital photography. While finding the right picture for a piece of content typically didn't fall on the copy editor, the one-stop shop atmosphere of the online business world has changed this.
Images are an essential aspect for any type of content. In fact, online articles that have images get up to 94 percent more views than their bland counterparts, so this is a job the copy editor cannot overlook.
Thanks to digital photography, copy editors have a multitude of images to choose from. Whereas photographers in the past were limited in storage capacity, it's now possible to hold thousands of photos on a single camera. That's why 1.8 billion images are uploaded online daily. Even with all these available images, though, copy editors must still be careful to obtain the appropriate copyright before sharing.
Copy Editing Software
Copy editing software is another technological innovation that's made waves in content creation. Even common programs, such as Microsoft Word, come equipped with grammar and spell checking features. This hasn't, however, removed the need for a copy editor.
In reality, these programs can only do so much. While they'll catch misspelled words, they often overlook words that simply don't belong. Since they're not capable of complex and rational thought, programs also drop the ball at crafting the clarity that copy editors have long provided.
The Future of Copy Editing Technology
The future of copy editing rests solely upon how quickly technology evolves, and within a few decades, copy editors may not be necessary at all. In fact, there are already programs out there that claim to have automated article writing capabilities. Of course, the truth is a bit more complicated than that.
In reality, these tools simply create stories based on predetermined templates and utilize simple data such as sports scores and corporate earnings figures. While the internet may be well on its way to killing newsprint, copy editors' jobs will likely be safe for the foreseeable future.
In all likelihood, the big changes in copy editing over the next 20 years will come in the guise of additional responsibilities. Just as image selection now falls on many copy editors, things like intensive research and appropriate sourcing have been added to their plates. These responsibilities will only increase.
The main technological innovation to look for will likely be programs that increasingly assist non-editors in creating their own copy. In turn, this will make copy editors even more valuable to companies that realize they will outshine their competition by utilizing professionals. Maintaining a human aura in content is more important that technical expediency.
The Importance of Copy Editing
Copy editing is a dynamic process that's likely to never stop evolving, but the main goals of the practice have roughly remained the same. By necessity, any business that produces content must use a copy editor. If they don't, they risk putting out content that lacks clarity and has grammatical errors.
More importantly, recent studies found that copy edited material was seen as "significantly more professional, more organized and better written" than material without copy editing. It doesn't matter how great entrepreneurs are at their jobs; if their writing doesn't appear professional, people will typically assume that their business isn't either.
Additionally, people usually aren't good at proofreading or editing their own work. They tend to overlook mistakes they've made. Unfortunately, this can result in an intended message being less than clear. A professional copy editor won't have the same outcome bias as the original creator.
Modern-day copy editors also recognize the importance of crafting engaging content. It's no longer just about reporting the facts as they are. For content to really get noticed online, it must grab the reader's attention from the title all the way to the final word. No matter how informative it is, drab content isn't going to keep people interested.
Final Word on Copy Editing
Copy editing has come a long way over the past two decades, and its evolution will continue well into the future. In a world where competition comes from all corners of the globe, businesses can only stay relevant if they're producing great content that's clear, concise and appealing to the reader.
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