A Guide to the Types of Editing: Which Do You Need?

You’ve written a blog post, essay, or book and revised it within an inch of its life. What’s next? Time to hire a professional editor!

But the world of editing is vast, and if you’re not careful, you might end up at Proofreading Pier when you really need a trip to Copy Editing City.

To save time and money and reduce frustration, it’s important to choose the type of editing your writing needs. If you pay for a proofread but really need a copy edit, for example, your writing won’t be its best, and you may have to spend more money for further editing later.

So, what are the main steps of the editing process? Let’s take a look

1. Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is when an editor takes a look at your whole written work and suggests ways to improve the content. This type of editing is very important for books—both fiction and nonfiction.

Developmental editing is also called substantive editing, content editing, or structural editing. These names give you an idea of what a developmental editor will help with: substance, content, and structure.

For a novel, your editor will likely comment on things like:

  • Plot and structure
  • Scenes and transitions
  • Pacing
  • Character development
  • Themes
  • Point of view
  • Voice
  • Dialogue

For nonfiction, your editor will likely focus on:

  • Organization
  • Effectiveness
  • Clarity
  • Voice
  • Pacing

Need a developmental editor? Check out the Editorial Freelancers Association or Professional Editors Network directories.

2. Line Editing

During a line edit, your editor will review each sentence to improve the style, flow, and technical aspects of your writing. Any written work—from a short blog post to a long novel—can benefit from line editing.

When I perform a line edit, I focus on:

  • Phrasing and word choice
  • Clarity and consistency
  • Use of repetition
  • Too much vs. not enough information
  • Showing vs. telling
  • Spelling, grammar, and punctuation

Want a line edit? Check out my services and contact me!

3. Copy Editing

During a copy edit, your editor will focus on the mechanics of your work. Like line editing, copy editing is important for any written work.

When I perform a copy edit, I address:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Syntax
  • Punctuation
  • Hyphenation
  • Capitalization
  • Tense
  • Consistency
  • Formatting (upon request)

Some copy editors also include fact-checking as part of their service; I can add this upon request.

4. Proofreading

Proofreading is the final stage of the editing process—one last check to ensure everything is as close to perfect as possible before you publish your writing.

When I proofread, I check for:

  • Typos
  • Capitalization, hyphenation, and punctuation errors
  • Formatting and layout errors

Not sure which type—or types—of editing you need? Contact me—I’ll take a look at your writing and let you know where you should begin. Let’s work together to make your writing shine!

Content Editing Checklist for a Nonfiction Book – Happy Self Publisher
6 Types of Editing: Which One Do You Need Right Now? – Reedsy Blog
What Are the Different Types of Novel Editing? – Louise Harnby

Published by Emma Robbins

Emma Robbins is an editor and proofreader with a decade of experience. She enjoys editing books, news articles, blog posts, and academic papers and specializes in history, Christian, self-help/memoir, and ESL content.

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