Types of editingConfused by editing terminology? Not sure whether you need a copy edit or a proofread? Here’s an introduction to some types of editing work.
ProofreadingProofreading is done after writing and editing, when the document has been laid out in its final form. The proofreader checks for errors introduced at the layout stage, like missing text or bad word breaks, and does a final error-checking pass.
Copy editingCopy editing focuses on spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage. A major part of copy editing is making sure that numbers, capitalization, abbreviations, citations, and so on are handled consistently according to an appropriate editorial style. The copy editor might make minor changes in phrasing but does not generally edit the tone and flow. As a rule of thumb, imagine the kind of changes you could make to a double-spaced printout.
Stylistic and structural editing (substantive editing)These levels of editing are concerned with improving the flow, structure, and expression in the manuscript. If you’re concerned about the clarity, reading level, tone, or smoothness of expression in your writing, or you need help with the structure and organization of your document, this is the type of editing you should consider.
Fact checkingThe level of fact checking needs to be discussed, but in general this means checking that the following elements are correct:
- names and places;
- addresses and phone numbers;
- quotations; and
- widely known, easily researched facts.
Localization, including Canadianization and AmericanizationSometimes works need to be adapted for publication in a different location or for a different language group. An English text may need to be adapted for a Canadian, American, or British audience. Or a translated text within a country may need localization after translation. Localization typically includes the following:
- adapting spelling;
- converting between metric and US units, or including both;
- editing usage to match the target region;
- adapting punctuation style (e.g., single and double quotation marks; periods and commas inside or outside quotation marks); and
- editing the punctuation of numbers.
Manuscript evaluationA manuscript evaluation is a written report that provides the author with feedback on writing style, plot, pacing, characterization, logic, and plausibility.
See Editors Canada’s definitions of editorial skills for more editorial tasks.