Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. I have just received a manuscript for copyediting. The authors have left many references unfinished. They also used initials for first names in each and every reference (along with not including issues/volumes of journals, not putting chapters in quotation marks, etc.). As there are over 1,000 references, looking up all of this and fixing it will take some time, and I have another book scheduled right after this one. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that if the authors supply a reference list that is, basically, unusable, they should fix it.

A. If the publisher requires a certain style, then sometimes authors will be asked to revise. Certainly it is not usual for a copyeditor to supply missing citation data, and if the publisher is flexible about accepting a different style, you might be off the hook for the heavy copyediting. You should consult the assigning editor before you proceed. Incidentally, it would be a good idea to look at a guide like Charles Lipson’s Cite Right, which shows examples of citations in all the major styles. You will learn there, for instance, that in some styles it’s normal to use initials for first names and to omit quotation marks for chapter titles.