Wednesday

Copy Editing, Line Editing, Substantive Editing

According to Merrian-Webster, editing is the process of preparing "(something written) to be published or used : to make changes, correct mistakes, etc., in (something written)."

In other words, it's the process of making your content, manuscript or other writing sparkle. It makes the content publishable.

If you’re a marketer, healthcare professional, or business owner chances are you will occasionally need professional editing for:

  • A book
  • Webcopy
  • A guest post on a ‘heavy hitter’ blog
  • An academic or health article you will be submitting to a journal or magazine
  • An essay
  • A thesis

When the occasion arises, it’d be a good idea to know which type of editing your manuscript needs. Hopefully, the descriptions below will give you an idea.

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 (Content 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 can take up to four weeks.

NOTE: It often happens that the author doesn’t realize the needs of her/his manuscript. 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, but the editor should let you know.

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


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