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The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.
— Mark Twain

 What Type of Editing Does Your Manuscript Need?

A broad range of terms are used to describe what editors do, which can make it challenging for you to find the best-fit editor for your manuscript. In general, editing falls into four broad areas: shaping, smoothing, correcting, and quality control. Shaping is about helping an author see what their story could be by focusing on the various elements of story craft. Smoothing and correcting are about improving what a story already is by focusing on the various elements of writing craft. Quality control is the final pre-production check. Following is a breakdown of commonly used terms and what they mean.

Manuscript Evaluation
(shaping)
aka: editorial letter, assessment, report, analysis, critique

A report assessing a manuscript’s content and organization; it is intended to guide the writer through the process of self-editing or rewriting.

Substantive Editing
(shaping)
aka: structural, content, developmental editing

Assessing and shaping draft material to improve its organization and content through in-depth commenting throughout the manuscript; often accompanied by a short report.

Stylistic Editing
(smoothing)
aka: line editing

Line-by-line editing to clarify meaning, ensure coherence and flow, and refine the language while respecting narrative and character voice. This is the type of editing that can make your writing sing.

Copyediting
(correcting)
aka copy editing, copy-editing

Line-by-line editing to ensure correctness, accuracy, consistency, and completeness.

Proofreading
(quality control)

Examining material after layout or in its final format to correct errors in textual and visual elements.

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