Copy Editing - Line Editing - Substantive Editing

If you’re an author or freelance writer, you will occasionally need the services of a professional editor. When this occurs, it’ll be a good idea to know what types of editing your manuscript or article may need.

Below are three types of editing. Hopefully, the descriptions will give you an idea of the differences between the three.

Copy Editing

This is the bare-bottom basic of mechanical editing. It covers:

•    Spelling (includes checking for homonyms)
•    Punctuation (periods, commas, semicolons, dashes, etc.)
•    Typos
•    Grammar (verb tense, numerals, etc.)

A homonym is a word that sounds just like another word, but has a different spelling and meaning. (e.g., hear/here/hair; it’s/its, to/too/two). These are words that spell-check won’t usually pick up.

Line Editing

This is the mechanical aspect of editing. Line editing includes checking for:

•    Copy Editing
•    Run-on sentences
•    Sentence clarity
•    Overuse of adverbs and adjective
•    Words used to begin sentences and paragraphs
•    And, more 

 It also checks for certain inconsistencies, such as:

•    Are the chapter titles all written the same?
•    Are names, such as countries and states, treated the same?

The manuscript is checked line-by-line. This is one of the most common editing requests.

Substantive Editing

According to the CMS [Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, 2.46]:

"Substantive editing deals with the organization and presentation of content. It involves rewriting to improve style or eliminate ambiguity, reorganizing or tightening, recasting tables, and other remedial activities. (It should not be confused with developmental editing, a more drastic process; see 2.45.)”

This form of editing is in-depth. This is where the entire story is checked, line-by-line. It includes:

•    Line Editing
•    Rephrasing/rewriting sentences
•    Rephrasing/rewriting paragraphs
•    Checking for tight writing
•    Check POV (point of view)
•    Checking plot credibility
•    Advising if particular content (sentence/paragraph/story) is appropriate for children
•    Checking for clarity
•    Checking for readability
•    And much more

Substantive editing is time consuming and if this is what you need, keep in mind it can take up to four weeks for an editor to thoroughly go through your manuscript.

NOTE: It often happens that the author doesn’t realize the needs of her/his manuscript. If you start with line editing, your editor should let you know if it’d be a good idea to ‘take it up a notch.’ Obviously, it’s the author’s choice though.

What’s the point of paying for line editing if the story’s structure needs an overall.

Image copyrighted 2013 Karen Cioffi



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