Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Did You Know? Different Types of Editing

MP900446674 When you ask someone to “edit” your work, what exactly does that mean?  There are various schools of thought on types or “levels of edit” so it is important to ask a potential editor what type of editorial services they offer and what to expect.  Doing this will set the expectations of the project and ensure that both author and editor are on the same page.

For my own professional editorial services, I use the following levels of edit:

  • Developmental
  • Substantive
  • Copyediting
  • Proofreading

Each level has its own parameters.  Note:  The parameters may vary from editor to editor.  Be sure to find out what is included at what level with any editor you consider.


  • Assists the author during manuscript development (sometimes before, perhaps during the concept or outline stage) in terms of content and organization.
  • May be involved in the writing and/or editing of the manuscript, depending on the scope and terms of the project agreement.
  • A developmental editor may sometimes be regarded as a ghostwriter or co-author.


  • Concerned with the overall integrity of the manuscript.
  • Rewrites/revises and reorganizes content for clarity, logic, and presentation.


  • Adheres to specified style guide.
  • Corrects errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word usage.
  • Checks for consistency in voice, terms, abbreviations/acronyms, style, and format.
  • Verifies facts, calculations, cross-references, and website addresses.
  • Queries author when questions of clarity, logic, or inconsistencies arise.


  • Examines a proof (a.k.a. galley proof or galley) against the edited manuscript for typographical errors or omissions.
  • May query copyeditor or author with other errors such as word usage, grammar, and punctuation. 

Most of the work I do falls under substantive and copyediting, and more often than not, due to time constraints, those types of edits end up combined.  This is always determined ahead of time and is provided for in the written service agreement.

Remember, when working with any editor it is important to clearly understand what editorial services will be provided.  And of course, make sure to get it in writing to ensure the project’s expectations are agreed upon by both author and editor.


Polly F. Kimmitt said...


Paula Goff Christy said...

Very informative. I'm not that far along in the process but it's good info to have. Thanks.

Marian said...

Great post!

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