Different Approaches To Different Types of Editing

Just like there is a difference between proofreading and copyediting or there are different types of writing – linear writing, non-linear writing, academic writing, poetic writing, copywriting, screenwriting, blog writing, and so on – there are also different types of editing. They can be divided into four main different types of editing:

  • Developmental editing
  • Line editing
  • Copy editing
  • Proofreading

You may have heard of the last two, or you have heard of just the last one. If you haven’t heard of any of them, we have to ask what in the heck you’re doing here?! Because whilst not everyone will need to carry out developmental editing, line editing or even copyediting, we all have to proofread our work.

Otherwise we could end up publishing a piece of writing that is littered with spelling mistakes and grammar issues. And we don’t want to be doing that.

But if you have written a manuscript, then there is a good chance you’ll need to carry out all four different types of editing. So without further ado, let’s have a look at what each one means.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is pretty much self-explanatory; it’s editing that we carry out during the earlier stages of our manuscript. This means we’re still working on tightening our plot, as well as our characters and any gaps in logic.

Developmental editing requires a lot of creativity and energy, as it requires you to get your head around the story. It requires you to ensure there are no plot holes, and that all the sub plots make sense and feed into the main plot. It requires you to get the tone consistent throughout the novel, and asks you to decide whether you’re going to be writing in the first person, or third person or so on.

Line Editing

Line editing is the second step of manuscript editing and it focuses on your syntax – ergo, your sentence structure. As Anita Mumm writes in her blog line editing isn’t concerned with the story and the plot, but cares much more for making sure that everything is readable.

So when you’re carrying out line editing, you need to be focused on the flow and fluidity of your text. This is the part, indeed, when your manuscript comes alive with language.


Copyediting is the part where editing begins to get heavy. This when you’ll need to be able to do a few jobs all at once.

A copyeditor has to look out for incorrect grammar, highlight it and rectify it. They have to make sure that the style, tone and structure is all correct and that it is the exact style, tone and structure that a publication has asked for. A copyeditor examines style and ensures that it’s consistent throughout. If you don’t have the time yourself, you can always use a copy editing service to help you out.


Proofreading is the final stage in the editing process, and therefore the most important. Any last minute spelling mistakes and grammar issues are spotted here and sorted out before the manuscript is sent to the publishers.

A proofreader needs to approach this editing with meticulousness and diligence. They have to concentrate, focus and take their time because mistakes are easy to miss, and once a manuscript has been signed off, that’s it, it can’t come back again!

All these different types of editing, indeed, require you to be meticulous. They require you to take your time to get everything right. Unlike writing, which can be spontaneous and free, editing has to be diligent and professional. If you don’t quite have the time to commit to editing, you can use a copy editing service to save you the hassle.