Types of Editing

Developmental Editing

Any or all of the following: 

  • working with the client and, usually, the author of a book or other document to develop a manuscript from initial concept, outline, or draft (or some combination of the three) through any number of subsequent drafts 

  • making suggestions about content, organization, and presentation, based on analysis of competing works, comments of expert reviewers, the client's market analysis, and other appropriate references

  • rewriting, writing, and researching, as needed, and sometimes suggesting topics or providing information about topics for consideration of authors and client

Substantive Editing

Improving a manuscript in any or all of the following ways: 

  • identifying and solving problems of overall clarity or accuracy 

  • reorganizing paragraphs, sections, or chapters to improve the order in which the text is presented 

  • writing or rewriting segments of text to improve readability and flow of information 

  • revising any or all aspects of the text to improve its presentation 

  • consulting with others about issues of concern 

  • incorporating responses to queries and suggestions creating a new draft of the document 


(sometimes called line editing). Any or all of the following: 

  • correcting spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and word usage while preserving the meaning and voice of the original text 

  • checking for or imposing a consistent style and format 

  • preparing a style sheet that documents style and format 

  • reading for overall clarity and sense on behalf of the prospective audience 

  • querying the appropriate party about apparent errors or inconsistencies 

  • noting permissions needed to publish copyrighted material  

  • preparing a manuscript for the next stage of the publication process 

  • cross-checking references, art, figures, tables, equations, and other features for consistency with their mentions in the text


Comparing the latest stage of text with the preceding stage, marking discrepancies in text, and, when appropriate, checking for problems in page makeup, layout, color separation, or type. Proofreading may also include one or more of the following: 

  • checking proof against typesetting specifications 

  • querying or correcting errors or inconsistencies that may have escaped an editor or writer 

  • reading for typographical errors or for sense without reading against copy

Project Management

Any or all of the following:

  • coordinating and overseeing all or part of the publication process for all or part of a publication

  • supervising and sometimes selecting other contractors to carry out such functions as copyediting, proofreading, illustrating, indexing, typesetting, and printing

  • facilitating communication among authors, editors, and others involved in the project

  • evaluating and monitoring production costs

This text was prepared by the Editorial Freelancers Association.