Editorial terms – C

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call to action: the part of a piece of text that tells the audience how to respond, for example a button on a website that says ‘Read our glossary’.

call-out: a quote taken from the body of an article and displayed in a prominent way as a design feature.

caption: the explanatory words that appear below (or above or beside) an illustration or figure.

character style: a set of formatting attributes that can be applied to one or more characters or words in one step.

citation: an in-text reference to a source. It should correspond with a full reference listing elsewhere in the document, in a footnote or endnote or a reference list or bibliography.

clean file: a copy of the edited or proof-edited file where all edits (Track Changes if using Word) have been accepted and the text appears in its final format.

clean-up tasks: routine changes at the start and end of a job, using Find and Replace and/or macros to remove unwanted formatting such as double spaces between words, spaces before punctuation and extra line spaces between paragraphs, or to implement house style, such as changing hyphens used as dashes to spaced en rules. As they are usually uncontentious, clean-up tasks can often be made as silent corrections.

CMS: see content management system

code/tag: used to show the typesetter/designer where a text element begins and ends (eg <CH> and </CH> around a chapter title); this is an alternative markup system to using Word Styles.

cold proofread: reading a proof without reference to any earlier version of the document (such as the copyeditor’s edited Word file or a hard copy with changes marked).

collating: combining the corrections from two or more sets of proofs (typically proofs read by the author and a proofreader) on to one set of collated proofs for the typesetter/designer to correct. Also referred to as ‘taking in’ corrections.

colophon: publisher’s imprint that gives information about place and date of publication and the publisher’s details.

comma splice: occurs where two independent clauses are (incorrectly) joined by a comma; for example, ‘John went to the shop, Nadia was there.’ While some fiction authors will use this construction for dramatic or literary effect, it is generally to be avoided. There are various ways to deal with this:

  1. Create two sentences: ‘John went to the shop. Nadia was there.’
  2. Replace the comma with a semicolon: ‘John went to the shop; Nadia was there.’
  3. Replace the comma with a coordinating conjunction: ‘John went to the shop and Nadia was there.’

Choose the most appropriate solution for the context of the text you are working on.

compositor: see typesetter

content management system (CMS): computer software that is a repository for files and enables editing (often using an interface that looks similar to Microsoft Word) and publishing of pages of a website or other digital product. A page or document can be worked on by only one person at a time and not everyone who has access to pages will have the authority to publish them.

contraction: (1) a short form in which the first and last letters are present but the middle of the word is removed (eg Dr = ‘Doctor’); (2) a short, informal form, created by running words together, particularly in fictional dialogue (eg ‘haven’t’ = ‘have not’, ‘you’ll’ = ‘you will’).

contributed/contributory volume: in academic book publishing, a book where each chapter has been written by a different author, as commissioned by a volume editor or editors, who may also write their own chapters and supply introductory text such as a preface, and who deal with compiling the various typescripts into a single volume for copyediting.

copy: the original content of a document intended for publication. Once edited, the copy is sent to the typesetter or designer, who creates a finalised version or proofs. Copy is usually supplied as a digital file, where the editing can be tracked or highlighted. As well as text and illustrations, the content may include tables, charts, notes, references or other features, and the document may be published as a web page, leaflet, journal article, book or some other format.

copyediting: editing the copy (content) to match the client’s brief, the needs of the typesetter or designer and the expectations of the target audience. The copyeditor follows a house style or custom style sheet to make the content (text, references, illustrations etc) clear and consistent throughout, correcting errors in grammar, spelling, vocabulary and punctuation while using templates, codes or formatting to make the document ready for typesetting or uploading. Depending on the quality and completeness of the original, copyediting may include some queries, rewording, rewriting, restructuring or research (eg fact checking).

copy fitting: adjusting the text to fit the layout and dealing with overmatter. This can involve saving lines by deleting repetition or unnecessary words, using a shorter word with the same meaning, or adjusting spacing between displayed elements in the text. See also subediting.

credit: acknowledgement to the holder of copyright in an image; credits may appear individually in captions or in a consolidated list in the front or end matter of a publication.

crosshead: a structural device of up to a few words (though often just one or two) that breaks up large amounts of text. The words in a crosshead are usually taken from the paragraph that follows it. See also subheading.

cue: a short reference to an image to indicate to the typesetter where it should be placed in relation to the text; it is written in a circle in the margin of hard copy, or keyed, usually in angle brackets (eg <Fig. 1.1 here>, <Table 2.3 here>), in digital copy. The cue is usually placed directly after the paragraph in which the illustration is first mentioned.