Sue Littleford t/a Apt Words

Advanced Professional Member
Location Bracknell, Berkshire
Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
LinkedIn Sue Littleford


On-screen editing, copyediting, plus editing text by writers for whom English is not their primary language, anglicizing, copyediting in US English. I am a CIEP tutor for the Art of Querying and References courses.

Recent training

Line-editing (Publishing Training Centre workshop, 2023); An editor's guide to author queries (Publishing Training Centre e-module, 2023); An editor's guide to editing references (Publishing Training Centre e-module, 2023); An editor's guide to working with typesetters (Publishing Training Centre e-module, 2023); Getting started with Word styles & templates (Cadman Training, 2022); Copyright for editorial professionals (CIEP, 2022); CIEP conferences 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020; Introduction to PerfectIt4 (revised) and Advanced PerfectIt4 (both Cadman Training, 2021); Mastering styles and templates (Using Office, 2021); English grammar in context (Open University OpenLearn short course, 2020); PerfectIt (Intro to PerfectIt4; PerfectIt3 Advanced: Cadman Training, 2020); Practical markup of PDFs (SfEP, 2019); Adobe tools for editors (Publishing Training Centre, 2019); Brush up your grammar (SfEP, 2017); Editing with Word (SfEP, 2017); References (SfEP, 2016); SfEP conferences, 2016, 2014, 2013; Advanced copy-editing (Publishing Training Centre, 2014); Editing digital products (Publishing Training Centre, 2013); Professional copy-editing (SfEP, 2013); Indexing for editors and proofreaders (Society of Indexers, 2012); Efficient copy-editing (SfEP, 2012); Introduction to web editorial skills (SfEP, 2012); On-screen editing I & II (SfEP, 2012).

Recent clients

Edinburgh University Press; Typoglyphix (for Bloomsbury); Bristol University Press/Policy Press: books and Longitudinal and Life Course Studies and Global Social Challenges journals; RefineCatch (for Bloomsbury imprints including IB Tauris and T&T Clark); K-Selected Books; De Montfort University; LID Media; and formerly the Shakespeare journal for the British Shakespeare Society.


BA (Hons) (Lond.) in Geography with English Literature. Mensa member since 2005.


Books, including multi-author volumes, and journal articles.


I am the author of the CIEP Guide Going Solo: Creating Your Freelance Editorial Business, whose fully revised and rather expanded second edition was published in February 2021 (first edition published in September 2016), and CIEP members can find the accompanying Going Solo Toolkit, with current financial information and spreadsheet templates for your business records, in the members area of this website.

Since August 2021, I've been blogging on my own website.

I write the Flying Solo blog thread for CIEP, tackling issues around running your editorial business. It comes out every other month (and it's included as part of THE EDIT, for CIEP members) from February 2021.

I'm a member of the CIEP's parliament of wise owls, who blog with advice for our fellow editors and proofreaders every few months.

Separately, I've occasionally published a guest post on the CIEP blog:

What might the future of AI mean for editors and proofreaders? (contributor, 20 October 2023)

Customer service: it’s all about imagination (19 June 2019)

Transferable skills and life lessons (26 June 2015)

The Institute for Scientific and Technical Communication have published two of my articles in their journal Communicator (Spring 2022 and Spring 2023 issues).

ACES (the American copyeditors' society) commissioned a blog post 2021:

Author queries for the nonfiction editor: How to raise ’em and how to phrase ’em (17 November 2021)

BookMachine commissioned a pair of posts on tricksy authors and how to deal with them:

17 Ways to Annoy an Editor (9 April 2017)

Difficult Authors: 14 Tips for Editors (11 April 2017)


Humanities and Social Sciences, including (but not limited to!)

  • history
  • geography - economic, transport, demographic and so on
  • international relations
  • politics
  • ecology
  • literature studies
  • theatre and film
  • art
  • psychology
  • business
  • media studies
  • law
  • linguistics

I also copyedit trade nonfiction, and occasionally work on fiction (thrillers and speculative fiction) and memoir.


I think your wording is fantastic. It's just what I'm trying to say. Apt words indeed.

I found this [the copyedit] to be the most satisfying part of the process, and I enjoyed having the chance to get to know you…

I would like to add a line to the preface thanking you. Awkwardly, you are the only one who can do that, but I really would like to recognize the help you've given me over the last couple of weeks…

Dr Christopher Ely, Professor of History, The Wilkes Honors College, Florida Atlantic University, author of Russian Populism: A History (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Sue Littleford is an excellent copy-editor. On top of being very knowledgeable, experienced, thorough, extra careful and fast, she is very kind, helpful and uses a wonderful method which is easy to handle.

Dr Michalle Gal, Senior Lecturer in History and Philosophy of Art and Design, Shenkar College, Israel, author of Visual Metaphors and Aesthetics: A Formalist Theory of Metaphor (Bloomsbury, 2022)

Sue Littleford has done an amazing job editing my manuscripts, and I have become hooked on her support, becoming a frequent customer. Her editing skills are meticulous, significantly improving the quality and clarity of the manuscripts. She is very organised with her queries making sure that the voice of the author remains coherent and natural.

Abdulla Galadari, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, author of Qurʾanic Hermeneutics: Between Science, History, and the Bible (Bloomsbury, 2018)

Thank you so much for your careful attention to detail and your sunny disposition throughout the un-airconditioned process [we were having a heatwave at the time]. Would that all copy editors were so thorough and clear in their queries. Will you marry me?!

Professor Victoria Emma Pagán, PhD, Professor of Classics, University of Florida, co-editor with James McNamara of Tacitus’ Wonders: Empire and Paradox in Ancient Rome (Bloomsbury, 2022)

I have just finished working through the copy-edited manuscript of my book for Policy Press. I wanted to say a big thank you for all the work you did to put this into some sort of shape. I first published a book in 1986 and I have never had anyone do such a thorough and painstaking job on my text. Your patience is exemplary!

Chris Pierson, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Nottingham, author of The Next Welfare State? UK Welfare After COVID-19 (Policy Press, 2021)

From the preface:

And last but not least, while celebrating the heterogeneous, Mixed Forms of Visual Culture is doubtless more productively consistent in aspects of its prose and presentation by virtue of Sue Littleford's meticulous and sympathetic copy-editing.

Dr Mary Anne Francis, Principal Lecturer, School of Art, University of Brighton, author of Mixed Forms of Visual Culture (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2021)

I can't tell you what a difference it has made to have a copyeditor who has read for both form and content. I am so grateful for your work on this.

Dr Kathryn R. Barush, Associate Professor and Thomas E. Bertelsen Jr. Chair of Art History and Religion, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley / Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, author of Imaging Pilgrimage (Bloomsbury, 2021)

You’re brilliant - these look amazing and your attention to detail scares me a little! They’re much nicer to read now, and the style suggestions and style guide are really helpful.

Dr Matthew Whalley, author of resources for practitioners and self-help on the Psychology Tools website: (May 2019)

Sue Littleford has been the best copy editor I’ve worked with in a long career of publishing. She is assiduous, resourceful, intelligent, detailed and efficient and undoubtedly improved the quality of our work. (Professor Deborah Cartmell, Associate Dean, Research, De Montfort University).


Sue Littleford was an excellent copy editor, meticulous, detailed and efficient.  She was also extremely quick.  Working with her made a potentially agonising process quite painless.  (Peter J Smith, Reader in Renaissance Literature, Nottingham Trent University)

Co-editors of Much Ado About Nothing: A Critical Reader (Bloomsbury Arden Shakespeare, 2018)

It is good to see that the end of the intensive editing is expected next week, but it also makes me a little sad, as I have enjoyed the process despite the late nights and occasional exhaustion.


Many thanks for the hard and thorough work, which can be seen from the attached documents. It feels like a great step towards publishing this book, but also it feels like I am into slightly unknown territory, unhinged from the safety of collaboration with you.


What a great collaboration we have had! It has felt from the start that the job is in very safe hands. I have asked myself a few times “How did I deserve to get this editor for my book?” Honestly.

Ljubomir Jankovic,  Professor of Zero Carbon Design at Birmingham City University, author of Designing Zero Carbon Buildings: Using Dynamic Simulation Methods (2nd edition, Routledge, June 2017)

Brilliant. All safely received .... And all immaculately presented as ever. I like getting jobs back from you as it makes my life so easy.

Merv Honeywood, Client Manager (for Bloomsbury), RefineCatch Ltd (June 2018)

You are one of the most professional and cheery copyeditors I’ve ever worked with and it makes me feel like our book is in the best of hands.

Prof. Christoph Lindner, Professor of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam and  volume co-editor of Global Garbage (Routledge, 2016)

It's been a pleasure working with you. Your editing is a model of precision and concision! I know you’ve made our festschrift hugely better than when you first laid eyes on the computer files!!

Bill Hickman, former Associate Professor of Turkish Language and Literature at the University of California (Berkeley), now retired and volume co-editor of Turkish Language, Literature, and History (Routledge, 2016)

Many thanks for your attention to deal and your good humour throughout the process, thanks too for the word list – I haven’t seen one of those before! 

Dr Lisa Webley SFHEA, Professor of Empirical Legal Studies, Westminster Law School, University of Westminster, author of Legal Writing (4th edition, Routledge, 2016)

I wanted to let you know how much I’ve appreciated – and enjoyed – working together with you on the copy editing of our new book with Routledge, Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism. Although I’ve worked with copy editors in the preparation of academic journal articles for publication, this was my first experience with a book project; and it has been a truly rewarding one. I’ll certainly request you as a copy editor for future book projects.

From our first point of contact, you kept me informed about the process. You let me know about your availability and when I might expect each set of queries on successive chapters. And you were fantastic in liaising with others within the production chain when necessary. This helped me manage my expectations and workload in such a way that – despite the hectic time of year from an academic’s perspective – the task of progressing the book from the original manuscript to final edited copy was a smooth and painless one.

You were extremely efficient; but at no stage did I feel hurried or rushed.  The clarity of your queries made it easy to respond; and you were swift in following-up on questions along the way. When I was unsure about best practice in referencing, formatting or expression, you were always able to offer advice. I was especially impressed by your attention to detail – and your surprising breadth of knowledge and understanding of our area of research. You picked up things in a manuscript that I could have sworn was clean; and you were able to query things that only someone tuned-in to the research topic would have been able to catch. You also retained the various chapter authors’ voices whilst ensuring that the book reads as a unified piece of work. All of this gives me added confidence that our book will present itself as well as it possibly can when it appears in print.

It has been great to work together on this and I look forward to the possibility of future collaboration.

Dr Suzanne J. Konzelmann, Birkbeck, University of London, Director, London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, Director, Postgraduate Programmes in Corporate Governance and Business Ethics, co-editor of Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism (Routledge, 2013)

…you are the best copy editor we use and there are over 30 of them! I would like to have used you more over the last couple of years but when you are good at your job that’s how it goes…

Rob Brown, Project Manager (now retired) at Saxon Graphics, Derby on T&F and Continuum jobs, December 2015

In an email to the publisher:

Normally I don't fill out these kinds of surveys, I really don’t like them. But I took some time to fill this one out because I found the experience with the team Routledge had assembled to be so positive. … Sue Littleford was quick, careful, and very pleasant to work with as our copy editor…

And in the survey:

It was a pleasure to work with the copy editor. Sue Littleford did a fabulous job in a very timely manner. She was very easy to work with, and her queries and messages were always very clear.

Dr Greg Halseth, Professor in the Geography Program at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada Research Chair in Rural and Small Town Studies and Co-Director of UNBC’s Community Development Institute, Canada, volume editor of Transformation of Resource Towns and Peripheries (Routledge, 2017)

…thank you for the great job you have done for this work. It was a real contribution to the work, and a real help to boost its quality. I am very happy to have you and your expertise in this project.

Dr Seyed Hadi Borhani, Assistant Professor, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran, author of Textbooks on Israel-Palestine: The Politics of Education and Knowledge in the West  (IB Tauris, 2022)

I was very impressed by Sue’s speed and accuracy; the small adjustments and corrections needed really improved the finished article, making it more succinct and easier to read.

Graham A. Potts, managing director of Steel Pile Solutions Ltd, author of an editorial for the Concrete and Steel in Construction Yearbook