Types of Editing

If you’re not sure what type of editing you’re looking for the following lists should help you:

Developmental Editing

  • Works with the client and usually the author of a book/document to develop a manuscript from initial concept, outline, or draft through any number of subsequent drafts
  • Makes suggestions about content, organization and presentation based on  analysis of competing works, comments of expert reviewers, the client’s market analysis, and other appropriate references
  • Rewrites, writes, and researches as needed, and sometimes suggests topics or provides information about topics for author’s or client’s consideration

Substantive Editing

  • Identifies and solves problems of overall clarity or accuracy
  • Reorganizes paragraphs, sections, or chapters to improve the order in which the text is presented
  • Writes or rewrites segments of text to improve readability and information flow
  • Revises any or all aspects of the text to improve its presentation
  • Consults with others about issues of concern
  • Incorporates responses to queries and suggestions in creating a new draft of the document


  • Corrects spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the original text
  • Checks for or imposes a consistent style and format
  • Prepares a style sheet that documents style and format
  • Reads for overall clarity and sense on behalf of the prospective audience
  • Queries the appropriate party about apparent errors or inconsistencies
  • Notes permissions needed to publish copyrighted material
  • Prepares a manuscript for the next stage of the publication process
  • Cross-checks references, art, figures, tables, equations, and other features for consistency with their mentions in the text


  • Compares the latest stage of text with the preceding stage, marking discrepancies in text, and when appropriate, checks for problems in page makeup, layout, color separation, or type
  • Checks proof against typesetting specifications
  • Queries or corrects errors or inconsistencies that may have escaped an editor or writer
  • Reads for typographical errors or for sense without reading against copy

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