Word Count

Writers Talk About Writing

Is It "Copyeditor" or "Copy Editor"?

Here is the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. This time she answers the question, is it copy editor or copyeditor?

September is Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month, which reminded me of an old question: Is copy editor one word or two?

As with so many compound words, either form works; some dictionaries list it both ways. The AP Stylebook says copy editor is two words just like business editor and managing editor. A Google search and a Google News search also both return far more results for the two-word version, and the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary lists only the two-word form. Perhaps most tellingly, the American Copy Editors Society presents it as two words.

I can't say copyeditor is wrong, but I recommend copy editor

For more on copy editor vs. copyeditor, see the comments on the Language Log post, "How should we spell 'copy editor'?"

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Mignon Fogarty is better known as Grammar Girl. She is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network, author of Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, and the creator of the iOS game Grammar Pop. She is also the Donald W. Reynolds Chair of Media Entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism and Advanced Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Reno. Click here to read more articles by Mignon Fogarty.

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Comments from our users:

Wednesday September 17th 2014, 8:46 AM
Comment by: HARSHA (India)
Thank you for sharing this. good one.
Thursday September 18th 2014, 12:47 AM
Comment by: MaryEllen (AZ)
The AP Stylebook is the first-grade reader of style. I don't think it's worth mentioning, and it's certainly worth using as a reference.
Thursday September 18th 2014, 9:08 AM
Comment by: Marie (GA)
Good advice, thank you. I enjoy reading short and to the point articles.
Thursday September 18th 2014, 10:56 AM
Comment by: Jerry G. (Fort Myers, FL)
My Freshman English students have problems with the one-word/two-word distinction all the time. Everyday vs every day. Work out vs. workout. They have to understand the difference between words used as verbs and as nouns.
Jerry Greenfield
Author of "Secrets of the Wine Whisperer."
Thursday September 18th 2014, 7:07 PM
Comment by: Howard Daniel (CA)
What's your take on speech writer/speechwriter?
Friday September 19th 2014, 1:44 PM
Comment by: Carolyn Russell
AP Stylebook is the bible for journalists and media relations experts, save those using WSJ or NY Times specific style - and provides continuity and consistency in employee and corporate communication as well. If you were to refer to just one source for "copy editor," which is clearly associated directly with newspapers, the Stylebook is the logical go-to reference.
Saturday February 11th 2017, 6:16 PM
Comment by: Bob (FL)
Okay, copy editor it is (I already had decided that).
My question is: Which do you prefer, copyedit (copyedited, copyediting), copy-edit, or copy edit?

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