Several years ago, a professional science writer contacted me and said, “I really need an extra set of eyes on this before it gets published, can you do a thorough copy edit for me?”
“Of course,” I replied and promptly got to work fixing grammar, spelling, editing for clarity, and proposing changes that would help the article align with brand standards. Proud of my work, I sent the edits to my client only to get the following reply:
“This isn’t what I asked for! I just wanted you to fix typos!”
It was then that I realized that most people, even professional writers, don’t fully understand the difference between types of editing or know which level of review is best for their project.
Let’s fix that! In this post, we’ll explore four common types of editing, and when they occur in the content creation process.
Proofreading vs. Copy Editing: What’s the Difference?
Proofreading is the most basic level of editing. It merely confirms that what is on the page is clean in terms of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and style. It is typically done at the end of the editing process, just before the piece is ready for publication.
Copy editing dives much deeper than proofreading by providing suggestions on how to fix poorly worded content, catching content errors, maintaining a consistent style, formatting text, and in-document cross-checking. Like proofreading, it also ensures consistency and accuracy in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style. Copy editing should be done multiple times throughout the content creation process, especially after revisions.
Developmental & Style Editing: Why Do I Need Them?
Developmental editing is great for larger and more complex projects or inexperienced writers. During a developmental edit, the editor will help you translate your ideas into engaging, well-structured copy. Developmental editors may assist with project planning, restructuring existing content, full or partial rewrites, content recommendations, and provide multiple rounds of editing.
Style editing focuses more on the mood and voice of the content rather than grammar. It ensures that the words and phrases used to support the overall brand, goals, tone, and structure. If you have a large project with multiple authors, a stylistic edit can ensure that all sections have the same voice so that no single author’s section stands out like a sore thumb.
Other Services Editors May Provide:
Fact-checking confirms that all claims made are valid and accounted for in citations. This includes cross-checking footnotes and bibliographical references.
Indexing occurs just before publication. Indexing is a categorizing and networking of terms and subjects that the reader can consult to find specific information in the text quickly and easily. Some editors specialize in indexing.
As you can tell by the chart above, there is a lot of overlap between the types of editing, and you’ll likely find that some editors combine elements from each into their services.
It’s always a good idea to have a detailed discussion with your editor at the beginning of a project to determine what they’ll be doing at each stage of review. For example, if you’re crunched for time at the end of a project, for a light proofread for egregious typos may be best.
If you’d like a professional editor to refine and polish your content, contact Dream Write Creative for a free strategy session and quote.