Choose the Level of Editing You Need

1. Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is the most in-depth editing on a manuscript. It can include consulting with the author before the writing begins or in the early stages. The developmental editor may help plan the organization, features, visual and media content, and other parts of the work. Tasks often include the following:

  • Detailed recommendations for organizing and restructuring the text

  • Moving  paragraphs and sentences to improve flow

  • Ensuring logical and consistent structure by adding or deleting headings

  • Identifying gaps in content, and supplying or describing the needed copy so that the author can provide it

  • Deleting content that is outdated or that does not achieve the desired  focus or tone

Copyediting is a separate step after the developmental stage. The developmental editor does not ensure the consistency or correctness of spelling and grammar.

Note the Differences Between Levels of Copy Editing. The differences between heavy and medium copy edits are the levels of judgment and rewriting. A heavy copy edit improves the flow of text rather than simply ensuring correct usage and grammar. A heavy copy edit may include suggestions for how to rework content rather than just pointing out the issue.

2. Substantive (heavy) Copy Editing

  • Light and medium copy editing tasks

  • Alert author to concepts or ideas that are poorly expressed and make suggestions

  • Replace unnecessary jargon or cliches, eliminate wordiness

  • Note issues with voice or point of view

  • Make suggestions as needed for smooth, logical transitions.

  • Check headings for logical structure

3. Medium Copy Editing

  • Light copy editing tasks

  • Check for proper pronoun use, consistent use of tense

  • Note to author any flaws in logic or flow, or wordy or abstract passages and offer suggestions

4. Light Copy Editing

  • Corrects errors in grammar, spelling, syntax, and punctuation.

  • Checks for consistency in spelling, capitalization,  numerals, hyphenation.

  • Checks for logical flow within each paragraph.

  • Check that everything is consistent, cohesive, and complete


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