Four ‘Phases of Editing’ or ‘Editing Passes’

During this stage of the writing process, your creation receives its final structural polish. From here you can upload, print, publish or simply enjoy your work.

1. Developmental [Structural] Editing

This is the first editorial pass that should happen to your [finished] writing. This phase requires your editor to look at your ‘big picture’. In this stage, the document [often a manuscript for publication] is read in its entirety to ensure it makes sense. Here, any structural issues or confusion will be highlighted so they can be addressed before further editing takes place.

Non-fiction works are approached in a similar top-down way to novels to ensure the ‘big picture’ makes sense for the work’s intended audience. A Developmental Editor will concentrate on:

  • Overall structure
  • Plot or Setting
  • Subject or Character development
  • Content or Scene changes
  • Introduction and Conclusion

2. Line [Content] Editing

Once all the structural changes have been made from the suggestions in the Developmental Edit, the Line Edit should be done. Sometimes it is called stylistic or content editing. This is where the editor drills down into more specific items. A Line Editor concentrates on:

  • Sentence structure
  • Dialogue cohesion and punctuation
  • Word Choice
  • Voice or Style of the writing
  • Effective use of language

3. Copy Editing

Copy Editing is a more in-depth task than proofreading, although the two are often confused. In this form of editing, the Copy Editor ensures that the all text is clear and correct. A Copy Editor will concentrate on:

  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling
  • Fact-checking
  • Correctness of the table of contents, footnotes and/or bibliography (if applicable)
  • Amending echo words (words that are repeated often)
  • Accuracy of any chronology or timelines
  • Correct sequencing of chapters and page numbers

4. Paper Edit – The Final Pass

To complete your project a final pass of your manuscript will be done from a printed version of your manuscript. This is the most effective way of noticing if anything has been overlooked in the other phases and is an opportunity to ensure that the alignment of text, images, and diagrams is as expected.