types of editing

The publishing industry has six basic types of editing: developmental editing, substantive editing, copyediting, typesetting, proofreading, and manuscript evaluations. Each type of editing corrects specific writing or publishing errors. The editing types do often overlap, such as a developmental editor focusing on paragraph 
structure (substantive editing), or a substantive editor fixing typos (copyediting). 

Every professional editor specializes in at least one of these types of editing. 

 

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing, sometimes known as content editing, is the “big picture” editing.
A developmental editor looks over the manuscript, points out flaws in the manuscript’s larger elements, and suggests changes based on audience expectations, genre trends, and publishing requirements. Developmental editing comes before other types of editing in the writing process but after critique partners, alpha readers, and beta readers.

 

Developmental editors deal with . . . 

  • Characters

  • Conflict

  • Dialogue

  • Genre and audience

  • Logic

  • Narrative

  • Pacing

  • Plot

  • Setting

  • Structure

  • Subplots

  • Tone

  • Voice

 

Developmental editing is crucial for fiction but is also helpful for nonfiction. Publishers have developmental editors on staff, so writers who are planning on traditionally publishing their books are not required to hire developmental editors.

 

Substantive Editing

Substantive editing (a.k.a. line editing) is the work on the sentence and paragraph levels. A sub-stantive editor reads slowly through the manuscript, pointing out and fixing flaws in the manuscript’s smaller linguistic and semantic elements. Substantive editing comes after developmental editing and before copyediting.

 

Substantive editors deal with . . . 

  • Citations

  • Clichés

  • Coherence

  • Cohesion

  • Concision

  • Fact-checking

  • Headings and subheadings

  • Inclusive and nonbiased languages

  • Indexes

  • Informational graphics

  • Logic

  • Sentence and paragraph organization

  • Sentence variety

  • Thesis statements

  • Titles

  • Tone

  • Transitions

  • Usage

 

Substantive editing is very helpful in any genre and writing style but is especially prevalent in nonfiction. Publishers have substantive editors on staff if needed, so writers who are planning on traditionally publishing their books are not required to hire substantive editors.

 

 

Copyediting

Copyediting is the work on the word and sentence levels. A copyeditor reads slowly through the manuscript, fixing typos and other small errors in the text. Copyediting comes after substantive editing and beta readers and before typesetting.

 

Copyeditors deal with . . .

  • Basic formatting

  • Consistency

  • Grammar

  • Punctuation

  • Redundancy

  • Tense

  • Typos

  • Usage

 

Copyediting is necessary in any kind of textual publication. Publishers have copyeditors on staff or hired through contract; however, even writers who are planning on traditionally publishing their books should strongly consider hiring copyeditors.

 

 

Typesetting

Typesetters format pages, paragraphs, lines, and words to prepare the interior of the manuscript for publication or print. Typesetting is sometimes a cross between graphic design and editing, and it requires a fine eye. It comes after copyediting and before proofreading.

 

Typesetters deal with . . . 

  • Alignment

  • Hyperlinks

  • Hyphenation

  • Page numbering

  • Sizes

  • Text density

  • Textual widows and orphans

  • Typography

  • Typos

 

Typesetting is necessary for any type of manuscript that is going to be published. Publishers have typesetters on staff or hired through contract, so writers who are planning on traditionally publishing do not need to hire typesetters.

 

Proofreading

Proofreaders read slowly through the manuscript right before publication to make sure that all details are in order and all typos have been taken care of. Like typesetting, proofreading requires a fine eye. It comes after typesetting and is the last editing step before publication.

 

Proofreaders deal with . . . 

  • Formatting

  • Punctuation

  • Small design mistakes

  • Spelling

  • Syntax

  • Typography

 

Proofreading is necessary for any type of manuscript that is going to be published. Publishers have proofreaders on staff or hired through contract, so writers who are planning on traditionally publishing do not need to hire proofreaders.

 

Manuscript Evaluation

When writing a manuscript evaluation (a.k.a. manuscript assessment, or editorial evaluation), the editor reports on the developmental features of a manuscript and on
any broad issues the author should address.

 

An evaluation is usually 2 to 5 pages long and covers the elements that a developmental edit covers:

  • Characters

  • Conflict

  • Dialogue

  • Genre and audience

  • Logic

  • Narrative

  • Pacing

  • Plot

  • Setting

  • Structure

  • Subplots

  • Tone

  • Voice

 

However, when writing an evaluation, the editor usually does not mark locations in the manuscript that need attention. It is up to the writer to address the concerns and apply the suggestions given in the manuscript evaluation. Further work from the editor is billed as developmental editing.

 

A manuscript evaluation is a fast and less expensive option for writers who don’t want to have to pay for developmental editing.

 

For information on average pricing according to industry standards, see the-efa.org/rates.

For examples of the different editing types, see my editing samples.

Also see my services for details aboutwhat editing services
I provide for genres and manuscript types.

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EditingTime © 2021 by Suzanne Uchytil
suzanne.uchytil@gmail.com | Developmental, substantive, and copy editor

Images courtesy of Unsplash.com, Pixabay.com, and Pexels.com.

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