Eva van Emden, Freelance Editor

Certified Copy Editor and Proofreader


Types of editing

Confused by editing terminology? Not sure whether you need a copy edit or a proofread? Here’s an introduction to some types of editing work.


Proofreading 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 editing

Copy 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 checking

The level of fact checking needs to be discussed, but in general this means checking that the following elements are correct:

Localization, including Canadianization and Americanization

Sometimes 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: Some documents might need more substantive changes, such as rewriting examples to refer to more familiar places and things, or changing references to supplementary information so that they refer to local resources.

Manuscript evaluation

A 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.

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