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The Different Types Of Editing

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Photo by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash

No matter your style or genre, your written work will likely go through at least one round of editing before being presented to the world. For many authors, scriptwriters, and dissertation writers, your long-form piece may go through a variety of different edits before completion. But what types of editing are available?

Editorial Assessment

Have an early draft and want some feedback? An editorial assessment looks at the big picture with broad strokes. It guides the writer on how to construct the piece in a readable and logical way. Editorial assessments are very similar to structural edits with the two often featuring in editing packages together.

Developmental Editing

Also known as content or substantive editing, developmental editing looks at big picture issues such as organisation and structure. Some key questions that could be addressed include:

  • Does your story flow?

  • Has anything crucial been left out?

  • What can be cut?

  • What would be the best site hierarchy?

  • What blog categories are best for you?

  • What should your brand voice and tone be?

A developmental editor sees your work as a reader would and gives feedback regarding your characters, pacing, plot, tense, and other elements.

An editorial assessment and developmental edit are best for new writers, professional indie authors with strong writing skills, and traditionally published celebrities.

Structural Editing

As the name implies, structural edits work to improve your narrative’s structure. This type of edit occurs after or during a developmental edit. Still, you can request to make analysing your structure a priority. For fiction, a structural edit can help you decide if you need more or fewer chapters, and whether you should expand or cut down on individual sections. It is similar for documents such as dissertations, theses, and technical pieces.

A structural edit is best for writers who struggle with structuring their arguments or narrative.


One of the most common forms of editing, copy-editing seeks to create the most readable version of your book or article. It focuses primarily on clarity, coherency, consistency, and correctness. Using broader strokes than a proofreader, copy-editors correct the following to ensure that your piece looks as professional as possible:

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Capitalisation

  • Word usage and repetition

  • Dialogue tags

  • Use of numbers and numerals

  • POV and tense

  • Descriptive inconsistencies

  • Factual errors

  • Timeline

  • Readability

  • Adherence to a style guide

Copy edits can be combined with line editing in some editorial packages. Just like with developmental editing, you can request to make copy-editing a priority.

Line Editing

Also known as stylistic or comprehensive editing, line editing focuses on content and flow. Because these styles are so similar, many editing packages place line editing and copy-editing in the same package. Some aspects of your work that would be examined include:

  • Run-on sentences

  • Word usage

  • POV and tense

  • Descriptive inconsistencies

  • Cliches

Whereas previous styles of editing are broader, line editing is deep in the weeds of your work with an eye on word choice and impact.

A book lies opened on a table, the pages unfurling in a beam of sunlight. Behind the book is a coffee mug, and next to it is a pen.
Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash


While we have discussed proofreading at length in a previous blog post, I thought it would be best to include it here as well. Another hyper-focused and detailed edit, proofreading is typically one of the last revisions your piece will go through before publication. Proofreaders look at:

  • Layout issues

  • Page numbering

  • Heading consistency

  • Page/line breaks

  • Tone

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Punctuation

While proofreading is similar to copy-editing in many ways, it is often offered as a separate service.

One tip for fantasy and sci-fi writers is to give your proofreader a style sheet of the fantasy names and locations in your novel or piece. This is to prevent any accidental misunderstandings for them.


Not every writer needs this service, but it can be handy in certain situations. For those who write detailed factual pieces such as textbooks, history or science books, and dissertations, a fact-checker can help you avoid any accidental mix-ups. Typically, a fact-checker will note down all of the facts in your piece and, as the name implies, confirm that they are correct, then make any necessary changes.


For writers of textbooks, detailed worlds, and dense non-fiction, having an indexer on your side can make your book more comfortable to read. Indexers work with both you and your designer to create an appropriately sized index for your piece. Indexers often use indexing software to make the process smoother.

Overall, different niches and writers require different levels of editing, depending on the project. After reading this blog post, we hope you have a better understanding of which type your project needs.

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