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.
CIEP, the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, prefers copyeditor.
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.
And here you can read about how to write e-mail (or e-mail).