Levels of Editing


Build A Great Writer-Editor Relationship


Lesson Info

Levels of Editing

There are different levels of editing, and there's different generally accepted terms. However, not every organization agrees on what each type of editing is called. Actually, in the bonus material available we have listed, I've pulled from a number of editing associations how they define these types of editing. So what one calls copyediting or developmental editing or substantive editing, can vary in the details. The important thing for you to know is what you'd like to have done to the work. Generally, editing starts with a deep review of content, an overall picture, What do we have, and how do we make it better? And then it moves to print-ready material, What is getting ready for the reader to see, and is it what's supposed to be there? So, in substantive editing, I approach the piece by asking, is this writing meeting its goal? When you're copyediting, is this what the writer meant to say, and is it the best way to say it? And when you're proofreading, is this what the reader shoul...

d see? I know they're very different perspectives, and keeping each one in mind is a great way to determine what level of editing you should be looking for. Substantive editing. This is often very commonly in the field called developmental editing, but because some style guide specifically, the Chicago Manual Style, refers to developmental editing as more of an acquisitions editor position, there is some flexibility. So again, this can be called even structural or developmental editing. But these are gonna be what this edit looks for. This is a large-scale view of the work. It includes a deep revision of content. It's going to evaluate appropriateness for audience, clarity, voice, flow, pacing. Essentially, does this piece achieve what it sets out to achieve? This is gonna be where the writer does the most heavy lifting. There can be rewrites involved here. Whole sections can be crossed out and replaced with new writing. It's gonna help clarify the goals, create that additional content. It's gonna help you rewrite with focus, and it's gonna solidify the overall project structure. So you may or may not get some copyediting changes in this review, but it's not the goal. The goal is to get the final content and the idea solidified and pure. So editors actually feel who do enjoy substantive editing, there's some coaching inherent in this process. When they engage with the writer, they say, I've really found that this is your strength; however, these are your weaknesses, and it becomes a bit of a dialogue beyond the piece about things the editor is doing and things they can improve upon. Copyediting, this is the most familiar term. So most people are going to be likely to ask, I need a copyedit. And here's what a copyedit would look for. This is focused on the writing itself, and it's aiming to improve the overall quality of it. This is gonna line-level changes. How is the grammar, is the syntax correct in this sentence? We're gonna look at the readability. Jargon, is it used appropriately? It's going to ensure overall consistency and accuracy. And it's going to apply consistent style. If you haven't chosen a style yet, it'll be chosen here. And a style sheet for your specific work will be created and enforced in this stage. Anyone work with style sheets before? Yeah, they're very helpful. Oh my goodness, I do in proofreading! Proofreading is one of the levels of editing that's actually the most misunderstood, and it's usually because it's affordable, people think it can also mean a light copyedit. And while an edit or proofread does look at some editing aspects, it's actually very different. So a proofread is a review of print-ready material. This has been through previous revisions. If you have not had a work reviewed yet, it's not ready for a proofread. This focuses on the cleanest final project and addresses the cohesiveness. So it has anything you need to add for the reader, visuals, quotes, layout. This will include a light cold read of the text, but the proofread is only going to get rid of incontestable errors. So if it's just unarguably wrong, it'll be corrected in the proofread. If you put defiantly when you mean definitely, that's what the proofreader's there for. They're not gonna be catching languages use. If there's a way that it could've been said better but wasn't, it's gonna stay the way it is. This can include proofreading against other versions and making sure other edits are integrated. And like I said, it's gonna conclude all the visuals. So formatting, style, layout, how's it looking on the page in production for the reader. So couple of terms. Page proofs, also called galley proofs. If you're working with a book, they're also called arcs, fast reader copies. Recto/verso, the right/left front/back pages of a spread. And then, house style, this is a very specific style decisions of the publisher or the outlet you're looking to publish in. Now, you're more likely to get multiple proofreads if you're working with a publisher. The first one, cold read, blind proof, is what you'd get usually if you're working with a freelancer. You've had to go through copyediting, you got it laid out what you'd like to see in print. So let's do a cold read then. However, if you work with a publisher, and you do do more rounds of revision, you'll likely get a first proofread and a second proofread. The first compares the formatted file to the copyedited file and makes sure none of the content got dropped, everything that's supposed to be there is there. And the second, makes sure everything from the first proofread made it onto the page. So, some of the things proofreader look for are line breaks. This wasn't an issue in the copyedit. That word was together! But you can see when we break assignment after the A-S-S, we have different situation, and then if we break it after the G-N. I've actually encountered the next one on a printed page. And you can see, when you get to the end of the line, and you see the, and you get to the beginning of the next line, and you're completely pulled out of the work. You're no longer reading that anymore. Word breaks matter, this is what your proofreader is looking for. Also, the hyphenated word or phrase, it's not necessarily an error, but it can be jarring. It hinders reader comprehension, so we wanna fix those. Next, breaks that aren't as jarring or inappropriate but can still cause misreading. When you get to the end of the line and you see flow, you're not as prepared for the rest of the word to be ering versus flowering. Same thing with vinegar, broken as vine-gar. You're not gonna be having a smooth reader experience here, and the proofreader is gonna check for these things. Another one I saw just recently, a line break can actually change the meaning of the word. When we have words that are the same as nouns and verbs, we stress them differently. So pres'-ent or pre-sent'. The hyphen was in the wrong place, and they were no longer presenting, they were present. These are the details that a proofreader's going to find to make sure that the writing is correct and there are no incontestable errors. Word stacks and hyphen ladders, these are so fun to find, you guys. When you're reading, and if you see the same word stacked on top of itself that many times, it's very distracting. You're not gonna know why you're taking about yogurt, just that you've seen a lot right at the end of that sentence. Hyphen ladders are a little bit less jarring, but they're still visually distracting. Also, widows and orphans, when we have lines of text separated from the rest of the paragraph or page. They're especially difficult if they go beyond the page. So how strict do you think one should be with something like widows and orphans? And the last slide, there's one that wasn't highlighted in the next paragraph. I know, yeah, it's that exact same one. So, and I'm wondering, nowadays, when we have things like e-readers, and you can increase and decrease font size, it will, and we're doing all of this like typesetting, are we getting used to seeing them more? I mean, to what extent should we be adhering fully to this maxim or maybe being a little bit more loose? Well, we're actually less likely to see them because most of the time we read, we scroll, and we see uninterrupted text. So they're gonna be just as visually jarring when we see them on the printed page because we're actually more used to seeing text as a cohesive fluid whole than we are as a solid physical thing. So, they're actually, I would say a little more jarring now, as people do read online, and when you do change the text on your e-reader, they may pop up or they may not. But you can even change it to make them go away or to resolve them, and they'll always be disruptive to the reading process in a printed page. If you have a line all by itself on the beginning of the next page, the reader's gotta go back, and they have to try and figure out where they were and reorient themselves. Okay, thank you. Thank you! Any other questions? Good, alright! What level of review do you need? First, has it been reviewed by others? This is the big question. If it hasn't, you know you need to start the beta reader or a substantive edit, something that's gonna do that deep review we've talked about. If we've been through edits, had a really tight copyedit, let's look at the proofread. Next, the amount of time the review will allow. If you've had a piece that's accepted for publication somewhere, there's a deadline you can't move, that you're not in charge of. So you're gonna try and find the most thorough edit you can in the time available to you. That might be a really thorough copyedit, and then you send it out the door. But it'll still be improved upon. Publication format, is this going into print or online? I've worked with a number of self-publishing authors. And just because they just upload a digital file, it's so easy to just pull it down and make a change and put it right back up. And there's less stress on having it be as correct as possible the first time around because it's online, it's easy to change, and it's easy to fix. If it is getting printed on physical paper, you better believe they're gonna be as thorough a review process as possible because reprints are expensive. And then, finally, your publication goals. Where do you want this to be published, how do you want it to be published? Are you seeking an agent, are you self-publishing, going to a journal? The audience it's intended for will help you determine how deep a review you do need before it goes out.

Class Description

Even after you’ve put the finishing touches on your piece, the writing process is far from finished. Most written works are edited by a professional editor before being published or posted. While a few writer-editor relationships turn adversarial or combative, most are cooperative and constructive and help make the work the best it can be.

Experienced writer, editor and proofreader Heather Saunders will explain the different types of editing, outline the editorial process and offer guidance on how to navigate the editorial relationship. Armed with an in-depth understanding of how editing works and what editors do, writers will be able to avoid the pitfalls of being unprepared.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Set a budget and timeline with your editor before the editing process begins.
  • Pick the right editor for your project by looking at their certifications, experience and views on editing.
  • Determine the level of editing your need.
  • Understand the different types of editing, including developmental, copy editing and proofreading.
  • Know what to expect at each stage of process, including resolving queries, reviewing and accepting edits, and using style sheets.