Copyediting vs. Proofreading: What’s the Difference? New York Book Editors, 9 Nov. 2017, nybookeditors.com/2016/05/whats-the-difference-between-copyediting-and-proofreading/.
Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 2011. Print.
Joki, Kimberly. “Four Types of Book Editing.” Grammarly Blog, Grammarly, 22 Aug. 2013, www.grammarly.com/blog/amandaonwriting-four-types-of-book-editing-1/.
Norton, Scott. Developmental Editing: a Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers University of Chicago Press, 2011, pp. 1–7.
“Substantive Editing.” IPEd, Institute of Professional Editors Ltd, www.iped-editors.org/About_editing/Levels_of_editing/Substantive_editing.aspx.
The proofreader is an unexpected jack-of-all-trades. During the final phase of editing, a proofreader verifies that a document is sound before it is published. Yes, they do check spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but they also ensure that the format of the document is correct, that percentages and numbers appear consistently and adhere to house style. They make sure that the layout all graphs and tables are laid out correctly, and that the document contains all appropriate components, such as preliminary matter (dedications, copyright page, etc.) and end matter. The proofreader is the roadblock between the document and publication, and for this reason, multiple proofreads by multiple proofreaders should be conducted (NY Book Editors).
The copyeditor is likely the grammar nazi we all fear and specializes in the best-known and arguably most important phase of editing: the copyediting phase. Before a document goes to press or is released, the copyeditor checks for and corrects grammar, spelling errors, syntax, and punctuation. They will also check for consistency throughout the document, making sure usage is standardized throughout. They also fact-check, checking to make sure that names and dates are accurate. In a fiction piece, the copyeditor might ensure that the character descriptions and plot lines are consistent throughout. The copyedit is one of the last steps before production, so it copyeditors work only on completed manuscripts (Einsohn).
A substantive editor is the architect of the text. Sometimes called structural or content editing, a substantive editing comes after developmental editing, and during this phase, the editor will help identify the purpose of the document, the audience, the audience’s prior knowledge, and the circumstances under which they will most likely read the document. The editor conducts a structural review, which ensures the document contains all necessary and relevant information and determines whether any section of the document should be expanded upon or summarized. The editor will also check headings and external links, depending on the document. Next, the editor will check for clear language and style, making sure the document is clear and succinct by eliminating wordiness, redundancies, and unnecessary jargon. They might also improve phrasing and reorganize paragraphs to make the document flow logically (IPEd).
Developmental editing is a little bit like cooking. It takes a certain person to make a good dish without a recipe, and the same goes for developmental editing–without a plan, a text can quickly become muddled. This is why developmental editors generally lay the ground rules before they begin working with an author or text. As a developmental editor, it is important to ask who the book will address and what the book will cover. It is important to be candid with the author you are working with in order to produce the most successful document possible (Norton).
Since the advent of the printing press and popularization of published literature, the book publishing industry has relentlessly pursued quality, organization, and an overall pleasant experience for the reader. Unfortunately, publishers and authors cannot achieve these goals on their own. This is where the editor comes in. An editor is the author’s partner in crime and plays a crucial role in the publication of books from YA to nonfiction. Whether you’re interested in building stories from the ground up or simply correcting grammar and spelling errors, you’ll likely be able to carve out a niche in the industry. Follow the links below to discover more about each type of editor.
This is where the editorial work begins. Developmental editors are able to help authors create their content, fleshing an idea out from a draft, an outline, or even a concept. Because the editor is involved so early on in the process, they are able to make suggestions for content and its organization. They may also work with the author to find research pertinent to either plot or topic depending on the nature of the work.
Substantive editors generally work with completed manuscripts and, unlike developmental editors, will not work with the author on content. Their task is to identify key issues that might make the manuscript less successful or effective than its meant to be. They are also at liberty to rewrite and reorganize in order to improve the organization and/or clarity of the text at large. At the end of this process, both the author and the editor will have worked together to create a new and improved draft.
Also known as line editors, copy editors are not the writing or rewriting partners an author might find in a substantive or developmental editor. In an effort to promote clarity and make sure the author has cultivated his or her own voice, the copy editor will make edits based on grammar, syntax, and word usage while still maintaining the original meaning of the text. More often than not, a copy editor will query the author if they come across any apparent mistakes or inconsistencies.
A proofreader is the last stop for a manuscript before it moves out of the publishing house, so to speak, and goes out to the press. Similar to a copy editor, the proofreader scours the text for any misspellings and mechanics issues. They also check to make sure that the layout of the manuscript is correct and look for errors that might have been introduced during that process (Joki).