Welcome to the world of editing. There are some basic data to know in order to operate in this field, and to ensure you achieve what you need and want for your authored works.


Why should a book be edited? As a reader, I cringe when I come across typos and incorrect grammar in a book—especially from an author I admire and respect. It just feels wrong. Their communication should be clear, come across easily to the reader, with the intended impact of the author.

When writing a book, or other written work, you know the plot, you know the specifics about each character. You’re not stopping to check each detail of your story, or communication, to make sure it’s exactly right. You’re flowing out the concepts, and for some, or many, starting and stopping to constantly adjust, correct or review can be counter productive.

Thus the need for an outside professional to take an exterior view of your work, to identify typos, grammatical errors, inconsistencies, unclear sentences or paragraphs, and the like.

Typos and incorrect grammar will damage your written work’s credibility. Your editor is the one to catch and correct these errors that would otherwise detract from your communication.


Having said that, following is a brief description of the types of editing services available to an author.

Know, however, that terms in editing can be confusing as they are often used interchangeably, and sometimes have different meanings within the industry. It’s important you understand the type of editing services available so you get the one that best fits what you need.


Proofreading, also called proofing, is careful reading of a document to detect any errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar. Every author knows that, despite the spell checking abilities of modern word processors, a human proofreader is indispensable.

Proofreading is the last pair of eyes on your book before it goes live; it’s the last chance to catch an error before a reader does.


Copy editing focuses on the “five Cs” — writing that is clear, correct, concise, complete, and consistent. A copy editor adjusts sentence and paragraph structure, eliminates redundant words, replaces repetitive words with synonyms—all while ensuring your original tone remains intact.

It’s understandable that an author could lose track of any of the many small details throughout writing a book. Whether it’s how a character’s name is spelled, what town they’re from, or their relations, the possibilities for small errors are many. Some of these are introduced by authors themselves during a revision phase. In addition to consistencies in spelling and punctuation, a copy editor will find issues of continuity that don’t add up.

Professional editors use a revision-tracking system, such as Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature, so you can see changes and quickly accept or reject them with the click of a button.

Copy editing applies a professional polish to your book.


Some editors divide copy editing and line editing into two separate edits, copy editing being the lighter, grammar-only edit, and line editing being a more intense look at each sentence.

In line editing, the editor looks at your book line by line and analyzes each sentence, considers word choice and the power and meaning of a sentence. The editor looks at syntax and whether a sentence needs to be trimmed or tightened.

Sometimes also called stylistic editing, this can involve recasting sentences for clarity and flow. It can also involve moving sentences around so that your meaning is clear. Stylistic editing always aims to preserve the author’s voice.

Line editing is all about paragraph structure, sentence flow, word choice, and language-related techniques. That also means voice, style, readability, and forward movement.


Mechanical editing refers to the application of a particular style, such as The Chicago Manual of Style or Associated Press (AP) Style. The editor looks at punctuation, capitalization, spelling, abbreviations, and any other style rules. Mechanical editing is sometimes included in copy editing.


Substantive editing considers a work’s presentation and involves tightening and clarifying at a chapter, scene, paragraph, and sentence level. Unlike developmental editing, which covers the big-picture issues and deep-level restructuring, substantive editing deals with the actual prose.

This form of editing can be time-consuming and expensive. It also requires additional time from the original author to ensure the editor’s changes haven’t altered the intent or tone of the work. Due to rewrites, there is potential for loss of the author’s original voice.


Editing is a crucial aspect to a written work’s production and success. With the above, now determine what editing services your work needs, and ensure before it is published, that it communicates clearly and exactly as intended to your reading public.