Am I a copy editor or a copy-editor? Or perhaps a copyeditor?
First, what is a copyeditor? In publishing, copy means text. Consequently a copyeditor edits texts. However, one could argue that there is a difference between what, for example, a managing editor does and what a copyeditor does. Or, to quote Karen Judd, ”A copyeditor does not edit copy; a copyeditor copyedits copy”. You can read about how I work here.
Dictionaries differ in their recommendations. Merriam-Webster and Oxford English Dictionary have copy editor; The American Heritage Dictionary and The Chicago Manual of Style have copyeditor.
In book titles we can find both one and two words:
The Copyeditor’s Handbook (University of California Press)
Carol Fisher Salter: The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (University of Chicago Press)
Butcher’s Copy-editing (Cambridge University Press)
Karen Judd: Copyediting: A Practical Guide (Crisp Publications)
The Copy Editor newsletter changed its name to Copyediting newsletter.
As you can see from the URL of this site, I have settled for the one-word version copyeditor. One of the reasons is that my website address copyeditor.se looks better as one word; another reason is that many words beginning with copy are written as one word:
Copywriter, copydesk, copyright, copybook, etc.
There seems to be a trend for some compound words to go from two words via hyphenation to one word. A few examples:
proof reader – proof-reader – proofreader
base ball – base-ball – baseball
sub editor – sub-editor – subeditor
ink well – ink-well – inkwell
living room – living-room – livingroom
As always, the important thing is that you are consistent!
UPDATE June 2021:
Debbie Emmitt brilliantly sums up the issue here.
You can read more about compounds in this blog entry.