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Understanding the Different Kinds of Editing

Editing is a key element in creating your manuscript, but did you know there are different types of editing, and each one serves a specific purpose? Understanding these different types of editing can help you find an editor who will provide exactly what you are looking for to make your manuscript the best it can be.

Developmental/Line Editing

Developmental (also known as line) editing is a form of editing new authors may not be familiar with. Developmental editing occurs either in the middle of the manuscript’s writing or after the first draft is complete. A developmental editor looks solely at the developmental structure of your book.

For works of fiction, this may involve evaluating elements like plot, character development, setting, writing style, and overall readability. For works of nonfiction, this may involve looking at voice, presentation, organization, and overall readability.

Developmental editing does not look at grammar and punctuation, as that’s the copy editor’s job, but rather takes a broader lens to your work to make sure it is structurally sound. It is best to work with a developmental editor when you feel stuck with your plot or characters, or just want feedback on your writing structure. Once you and your editor feel your manuscript is sound structurally, it is then recommended you move on to copyediting.


When people hear the word "editing" copyediting is what comes to mind. It is the standard form of editing. These edits consist of evaluating proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, as well as sentence structure, word choice, and overall proper and efficient use of mechanics.

Copyediting begins when you feel solid about your plot and overall structure and are finished writing. A copy editor knows there are likely mistakes to be cleaned up, versus a proofreader who ideally should receive a manuscript free of errors. A strong copy editor is not only familiar with proper rules around English mechanics, but is also tuned in to the modern usage, particularly around punctuation.

In this day and age, the rules around punctuation are not as strict as they used to be and often differ depending on genre. A good copy editor understands this and will provide edits that are not only correct, but best reflect your writing style.


Proofreading is saved for the very end of the writing process when changes should have already been made and mistakes caught through copyediting. The purpose of proofreading is to get one last set of eyes on the completed manuscript to make sure everything is grammatically correct. A proofreader takes a close eye to your manuscript, looking for details like spelling and punctuation.

It is best to have a different person proofread your book than the person who copy or developmentally edited your book because a proofreader ideally should not be distracted by the story. The proofreader isn’t looking for writing style or character development or even if the story is well written; a proofreader is solely looking for spelling/grammatical errors.


Knowing the different types of editing and their purposes can help you as a writer make a more informed decision when hiring an editor. Ask your editor if he or she specializes in a particular type of editing, provides more than one type of editing, or is comfortable proofreading work they have copyedited (though this is not recommended, but it can help when you are on a budget).

At Light of the Moon, Inc., our editor uses her creative writing degree to provide developmental edits tailored to your manuscript as well as copy edits that are both grammatically correct and fit best with your style. At the end of the layout process, we then have our proofreader take a second pair of eyes to your manuscript to ensure any mistakes missed in the copyediting stage are amended.

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