Job listing includes five stages of life for a copy editor

The Crimson White, a student paper at the University of Alabama, is looking for a new copy editor. John Davis, the paper's chief copy editor, posted a call for candidates that includes the typical qualifications, such as being a "grammar nerd" and having "at least a cursory knowledge of the Associated Press Stylebook."

But in an effort to present a true picture of the job, Davis goes on to present his "five stages of life as a copy editor." They are as hilarious as they are (mostly) true.

Stage one is "Doing your job, and genuinely caring." He calls it the honeymoon phase of copy editing. Things kind of go downhill from there.

Stage two involves "Getting increasingly frustrated at a writer’s inability to improve his or her writing." That leads to "Questioning why you do the job as you hit the keyboard harder and harder with every correction" in step three.

Things really start to go off the rails in stage four, when the copy editor suffers from "existential despair" over the inability of some writers to use proper grammar and style, and check their work.

"You’ve stopped doing your job because, unfortunately, the desk you’re currently slamming your head against doesn’t have a monitor on it," Davis writes.

As for stage five? Here's a hint: "What time does the bar close?"

Read the full post for his amusing and perhaps all too familiar descriptions of each stage. I think Davis has a bright future in copy editing, if he can stand it.

(Thanks to Sue Burzynski Bullard for drawing my attention to the piece.)

  • Craig Silverman

    Craig Silverman ( is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends regarding accuracy and verification.


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