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Copy Preparers

United Nations copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors are assigned to sections that provide publishing services in the six official languages of the United Nations to different Departments of the United Nations Secretariat. They work on a wide variety of publications, ranging from those with archival value, such as the United Nations Juridical Yearbook, the United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, the Repertoire of Practice of the Security Council and country reports of the Human Rights Council to flagship publications of Departments, like the annual Millennium Development Goals Report, to colour brochures and public information material for conferences and other events hosted by the Organization.

The process starts with the production of the original publication, often in English. Once the original text has been translated into the other five official languages, copy preparers create an electronic design template of the publication, using the Adobe Creative Suite package, in order to lay out the text, figures, tables and other graphic elements in a clear and attractive manner that conforms to United Nations style and standards. Once the layout is completed, the publication is proofread against the original version. During this stage, proofreaders confer with editors, authors and officials and use electronic dictionaries, glossaries and databases to resolve questions of content and style. Often extensive research is needed.

Copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors must work closely with each other and be familiar with each other’s languages, especially while creating multilingual publications. They take pride in producing both printed and Web publications that maintain the highest standards of quality, keeping in mind that the reputation of the United Nations is at stake.

  • Challenges of being a United Nations copy preparers/proofreaders/production editor: maintaining a high level of attention, for an extended period of time, to the text being read developing the knowledge and skill required to research terms and references for accuracy and conformity with United Nations style and standards the energy to maintain productivity and ensure timely preparation of materials establishing and maintaining a rapport with clients/colleagues, while upholding the editorial standards of the Organization.
  • Rewards of being a United Nations copy preparers/proofreaders/production editor: having the opportunity to work on a wide variety of United Nations publications, dealing with many issues central to the work of the Organization mastering the skill of modern bookmaking, including the technical skills related to layout and graphics working with highly skilled colleagues from many backgrounds, in a team effort that results in quality publications across the official United Nations languages.
  • Ability to handle a wide range of subjects.
  • Excellent writing skills in their main language.
  • Familiarity with the latest trends in their language and terminology.
  • Ability to keep abreast of developments in the publishing and software industries.
  • A high level of concentration and attention to detail.
  • Ability to work under pressure.
  • Ability to meet tight deadlines and maintain required productivity without compromising quality.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and willingness to learn from others.
  • Ability to work effectively with people of different national, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, with sensitivity and respect for diversity.

United Nations copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors must:

  • Pass the United Nations competitive examination for copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors.
  • Have a first-level degree from a university or institution of equivalent status.
  • Have excellent skills in word processing, desktop publishing, language-related information technology tools and database content management.
  • In the case of French, Russian and Spanish copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors, have a perfect command, respectively, of French, Russian or Spanish, which must be their main language, as well as an excellent knowledge of both English and another official language of the United Nations.
  • In the case of Arabic and Chinese copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors, have a perfect command, respectively, of Arabic or Chinese, which must be their main language, and an excellent knowledge of English; knowledge of another official language of the United Nations is desirable.
  • In the case of English copy preparers/proofreaders/production editors, have a perfect command of English, which must be their main language, and an excellent knowledge of both French and another official language of the United Nations.