The five editors

Have you ever wondered exactly what an editor does?

The Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd) recognises three types of editing: substantive editing, copy editing, and proof reading.

The first category, substantive editing, can be split into:

  • Developmental editing
  • Evaluation or structural editing
  • Content editing 

developmental editor acts as coach for the author while they are writing the manuscript. The editor advises on structure, tone and related matters, ensuring the author stays focused on the purpose and audience of the book.

An evaluating or structural editor reads a completed manuscript, assesses its strengths and weaknesses, and provides feedback (usually to the publisher) about the quality of the book and how it might be improved. The feedback might mention details of style and voice, but usually focuses on length, structure, suitability for the target market, and so on.

content editor goes through the manuscript at a chapter and paragraph level, looking for flow and rhythm, development of an argument or plot, whether there’s enough descriptive detail.

copy editor or line editor goes through the manuscript line by line, checking for errors and making suggestions about grammar, word choices, style and punctuation. The copy editor applies the relevant style guide and checks for consistency throughout the manuscript. (For example, the original version of Pride and Prejudice had two different spellings for the Bennet family name. We try to avoid that sort of thing these days.)

proof reader does a final, detailed pass through the manuscript, ensuring that all the agreed editorial changes have been made before the book goes to print (or released as an epub). The proof reader checks that all necessary files are collected together (eg illustrations, bibliography, index) and ensures headings, captions, page numbers, cross-references and other details are correct and in the right place.

Every publishing project has its own size, shape and editorial requirements. Contact us to explore how we can help your writing shine.

Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

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