None of us are perfekt. In fact, the chances are pretty good that anything written for publication will contain at least one grammatical error or erroneous statement. The task of correcting these copy mistakes falls upon an individual called a copyeditor. A copyeditor receives material from copywriters, reporters or freelance writers and uses his or her editing skills to polish it into publishable form.
A good copyeditor must be extremely knowledgeable in the ways of proper grammar and spelling, but the job often goes beyond basic editing. If the copyeditor works for a newspaper, for example, he or she must also understand the acceptable journalistic style favored by that particular paper. Magazines and trade journals may also have their own standards when it comes to the use of jargon or the general reading level of their subscribers. It falls on the copyeditor to make changes to the copy in order to maintain a consistent voice.
A successful copyeditor may also need to create succinct titles or suggest additional material for clarity. Quite often a newspaper copyeditor will also be responsible for placing the finished article onto the proper page, a process called pagination. An article which doesn't fit the allotted space may have to be creatively trimmed down or rewritten. It also falls on the copyeditor to be diplomatic with the copywriters whenever rewrites or serious corrections need to be made.
There is no one educational path leading to a career as a copyeditor. Many successful copyeditors have degrees in either journalism or English, although a strong natural command of language and grammar can also be a plus. Some copywriters for media outlets may be promoted to the position of copyeditor after years of demonstrated writing skills. Others may be hired directly by publishing companies to work as copyeditors.
It is not unusual for a copyeditor to be the only other employee to read the entire text of a submission besides the original writer. The copyeditor is expected to catch any critical grammatical or spelling errors, along with any unverified facts or potentially libelous statements. This is why many copyeditors spend hours reading and re-reading manuscripts before signing off on their readiness for publication. A copyeditor must be able to work under the pressure of deadlines, but also be able to catch even the slightest slip of the pen before 10,000 copies are sent out to bookstores or news stands everywhere.