While it’s often enjoyable to curl up and read a paper manuscript, there are many reasons why editing in hard copy is less than enjoyable, particularly for a copy edit.

  1. Saved Time for the Editor: Many editors find an electronic edit much quicker, which translates into a more affordable fee for the author.
  2. Increased Accuracy: Editors are far more likely to pick up minor errors in an electronic edit, details you might not easily see on a hard copy, for example when there are extra spaces or other formatting concerns.
  3. Increased Consistency: Editing electronically allows for consistent editing. For example, if the editor discovers that sometimes you spell a word using Canadian spelling and elsewhere you use U.S. spelling, the editor can do a quick search for all instances of that word and make them all the same. This is true for capitalization, abbreviations, numbers versus numerals, punctuation, spelling of foreign words and so on. None of this can be done systematically on a hard-copy edit, which would require flipping through all the pages and hoping to spot every instance.
  4. Saved Time for the Author: With a hard-copy edit, you will need to interpret the changes, decide if you agree with them, and then input them to your electronic copy. With an electronic edit, the editor’s changes can just be accepted or rejected—they’re already made, so there’s nothing else to input. The only work you’ll have is to go back into the final copy and adjust any changes you disagree with (which hopefully will be few).

Quicker Exchange of Documents: Electronic documents can, of course, be sent by email. This saves a lot of time/money over driving/mailing/couriering a manuscript, especially when there are multiple drafts. A hard-copy version would have to travel back and forth a few times, even for only two drafts. Again, this is instantaneous with email, so the overall schedule is shortened, which translates into saved costs, to say nothing of greater adherence to deadlines.