What are the different kinds of editing?

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There is no standardized list of the different kinds of editing, unfortunately. Editing associations maintain webpages which go in-depth about these editorial tasks, yet each tend to disagree on at least one aspect of them.

That being said, you can generally rest easy by splitting them up into the following categories:

• Developmental editing (big picture changes regarding story and pace)

• Line editing (editing the writer’s voice directly, rephrasing sentences or rewriting them entirely)

• Copyediting (editing sentences and words for grammar, syntax, flow, and style)

• Proofreading (post-design proofing or a lesser version of copyediting)

With the proverbial Gold Rush in self-publishing, proofreading has taken on a different definition than what it used to be. Proofreading used to be strictly a post-design process, where you compared the draft with the final version and caught last-minute design and typographical errors.

Self-published ebooks approach it a little differently. Proofreading is often “copyediting-lite,” where the proofreader is doing what copyeditors do but in a more limited way. They try not to change sentences unless absolutely necessary. Some editors differentiate between copyediting and proofreading based on how many errors they find. Under a certain amount and it’s proofreading. Over it, and it’s a full-blown copyedit.

It’s best to ask the editor you want to work with what definition they use. I myself typically err towards the definition used in the previous paragraph.