jaclyn law writing + editing
Jaclyn is an experienced writer and editor who works with corporate clients, consumer publications and websites. EditFish logo for Jaclyn's editing blog
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A Mini-Guide to Editing

There are different layers of editing that may take place before a piece of writing (your copy) is ready for printing or posting. Here is a quick overview:


  • Substantive editing: I think of this as "big picture" editing. The editor works on document-wide issues such as content, format and structure (including the use of elements such as callouts, subheadings, lists and captions). At this stage, the editor may recommend major changes for a second draft.

  • Line editing: This is a more focused, line-by-line edit to look for problems with clarity, logic and flow. The editor deletes redundancies, and also considers whether the tone and language level of the copy are appropriate for your target audience.

  • Copy editing: This edit is like putting a microscope on your copy to hunt down errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, word usage, consistency and formatting. The editor also modifies the copy to fit your style guide, if you have one.

  • Proofreading: This is a final look at your copy to ensure that all errors have been fixed, and that no new errors have been introduced during the editing process.


    In practice, these layers often overlap (for example, an editor might do a line edit and a copy edit at the same time).

    An editor can also help you combine copy by multiple authors into one seamless document.