Here’s a quick guide to the different types of editing, just to give you a general idea.
Don’t worry – I don’t expect you to be the expert. I will ask you for a short sample of your writing (kept in strict confidentiality) and do my own assessment of the sort of work you’ll need. Why?
- You’ll get to see what an actual edit will look like.
- This helps me to make a more accurate estimate of what your edit will cost.
A. Light Edits & Proofreads
Proofreading: This is a final check of your electronic file (e.g., Microsoft Word document) for minor mistakes in spelling, punctuation, spacing, and so on, before the work is published.
Simple Copy Editing: For a light to medium copyedit, a copy editor will do the following:
- correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and problems with syntax;
- fix pronoun problems;
- put the work in proper manuscript format (usually Times New Roman 12 pt double-spaced);
- standardize notes, bibliographies, and reference lists;
- and make style decisions based on the Chicago Manual of Style (regarding punctuation, source citations, whether to spell out numbers or leave them as numerals, capitalization, Latin abbreviations, foreign words, quotations, how to use academic and military titles, when to italicize words or use quotation marks, etc., etc., ad infinitum).
Basically, your copy editor will take care of the seemingly endless details that most authors are unaware of but which publishers (and some readers!) are very fussy about.
B. Heavier Edits
Substantive Line Editing and Heavy Editing: In a heavy edit, your sentences will be polished and reworded to improve clarity and flow and to get rid of repetition, clumsy wording, overuse of the passive voice, convoluted sentence structure, and wordiness. Facts are checked and corrected, sections may be rearranged if necessary, and subheads and chapter titles might be reworked to make them catchier, funnier, or more dramatic.
Manuscript Evaluation: The editor will read through your manuscript, paying close attention to detail, and assess it. An evaluation includes attention to some of all of the following; punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, flow, style, and structure. In the case of fiction, they will look at plot structure, dialogue, characterization, handling of POV (point of view), pacing, and other elements. For non-fiction, this process includes looking at the overall structure of the book, the coherence of your arguments, grouping of ideas etc.
See more examples and explanations at the Editors Canada definitions page.