10 Tools for a Copy Editor’s Toolkit

Copy editors use a variety of tools to do their jobs effectively. In this post, you will find 10 of the most important. If you have tools you think belong in the copy editors toolkit, let us know in the comments.

1. Notebook

Just because copy editors don’t write entirely NEW content that doesn’t mean copy editors don’t take note of exceptional writing. When coming across copy you love (or copy you hate), jotting down those ideas in a notebook can come in handy later. And what copy editor doesn’t love a Moleskine notebook like this one?

2. Reference books

3. Sticky tabs

Mark style guides, dictionaries, and other resources with Post-it Small Flags. This way, you can easily find the pages you reference often.

4. Style sheet

All copy editors must use a style sheet when they copy edit a document, especially a long document such as a manual or a book. This ensures that names, dates, spellings, etc., are consistent. See our Writing Freebies page to download No. 2 Pen’s free style sheet template.

5. Copyediting, the newsletter

Believe it or not, things do change in the world of copyediting. Copyediting is the professional copy editor’s resource for news and changes in the industry.

6. Fun pens

Of course, most copy editing is completed on a computer and not on paper, but that doesn’t mean you won’t need your pens. Check out these fun assorted pens from Pilot.

7. List of traditional editing marks

Check out this list of copyediting marks from the University of Colorado (my alma mater).

8. Math help sheet

Writers are notoriously bad with numbers. It’s a left brain, right brain thing. Copy editors should always double check and triple check the numbers in any text. A simple Google search will turn up great resources like this one: Statistics Every Writer Should Know from Robert Niles, but a book like Working with Numbers and Statistics: A Handbook for Journalists is essential to the copy editor’s tool kit.

9. Dictionaries and style guides for particular industries

Some industries follow their own specific style guides. For example, attorneys follow The Bluebook for consistent citation and the American Medical Association has their own style too.

10. Test your editing knowledge

Just like our pencils, a copy editor’s skills need to be sharp. Many copy editors keep these two links in the “virtual copy editor’s toolkit” to test their copy editing skills from time to time.

P.S. Full disclosure: Some of the links here lead you to Amazon. If you purchase these items, the No. 2 Pen does get a commission.

P.P.S. No. 2 Pen provides professional editing services for clients. If you have a project you need copy edited, contact us today.


No. 2 Pen helps businesses sound sharp on the web. Contact us to learn about our writing services.