Editing by a professional can ensure that your copy is ready for distribution by making certain that it’s clear, consistent, correct, and complete.
If you’ve never hired a freelance editor before, you may be a little intimidated by the process. Not to worry, it’s easier than you think. First, determine which type(s) of editing assistance you need. Different types of editing entail different processes; some are more involved than others. These definitions can help you decide…
This type of editing takes place early in the writing process, often when an author has an idea or a rough outline and help is needed with bringing the pieces together. Are you leaving out any key details? Is there irrelevant material that needs to be cut? These are the types of questions developmental editing answers.
Developmental editing looks at the big picture, focusing on organization and structure more than word choice, punctuation, and grammar. Keep in mind that developmental edits don’t include any writing or rewriting. Suggestions may be made, but the job at hand is to help you become a better writer by explaining how to organize your ideas, structure your content, and transition smoothly between ideas.
If you’re a seasoned author or have confidence in the work you’ve created, you likely don’t need to hire a developmental editor. However if you need help taking your ideas and forming them into a book, an annual report, grant proposal, or advertising materials, developmental editing can be a major help.
While there is some overlap between developmental editing and evaluation editing, the key difference is that a finished report, book, proposal or advertising materials is needed for an evaluation.
With an evaluation edit, the competed work is reviewed to assess structure, flow, and overall quality for the purpose of identifying both the strengths and weaknesses. Similar to developmental editing, this process is not focused on the finer details of your writing, but on the big picture. The purpose of this process is to provide advice for correcting areas of concern.
This type of editing can require an effort beyond that of basic copy editing in that it requires the entire document(s) to be conceptually edited, such as reorganizing sections or restructuring the document as a whole. Take a book for example, it’s reviewed for discrepancies in the plot, character development, and/or dialogue, whether the theme has been developed and/or the sub-plots have been well integrated into the story line.
Whereas developmental and evaluation edits look mainly at big picture issues, content editing involves looking for contradictions, inconsistencies, factual errors, clarity, tone (refers to the mood implied by an author’s word choice and the way the text can make a reader feel) and voice (the individual writing style of an author). Effective content editing transforms a document into one that is clear, precise, and easily read.
The key difference between a content edit and a line edit is that a content edit is generally not as detailed as a line edit. As the name implies, line editing encompasses a line-by-line or sentence-by-sentence review with the focus on creative content, writing style, and language use at the sentence and paragraph level to ensure the intended impact.
While line edits don’t address inconsistencies or fact checking, they do call attention to run-on sentences, sentence fragments, and distilling sentences to express in five words what initially was said in fifteen. Line edits also bring attention to the use of clichés or writing tics that may not be realized, such as over use of certain words/phrases or the tendency to switch points of view.
Copy editing focuses on a text at a technical level for clarity and readability as well as flow by assessing grammar, word usage, spelling, punctuation, composition, word repetition, and sentence/paragraph length.
Although copy editors are generally expected to make simple revisions to smooth awkward passages, they don’t have license to rewrite text line-by-line, nor do they prepare material on an author’s behalf. Creating original content to be published under another person’s name is called ghostwriting. Furthermore, copy editors are expected to identify structural and organizational problems, but they’re not expected to fix these issues. When you read your materials out loud (which all writers should do), you’ll catch mistakes and wording issues, however you may overlook the content that editors have an eye for.
Although the terms “copy editing” and “proofreading” are sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably, they are two different processes. The difference between the two: copy editing improves and corrects, while proofreading focuses on catching any remaining issues before publication.
Proofreading is the final review, after materials have been designed and formatted and before going to print or posting the content online. Proofreading assess mechanical correctness, such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, omitted words, repeated words, spacing/formatting, and typographical errors. Proofreading isn’t meant to fix your content—but identify and correct these types of issues.
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