Different Types of Editing

So you’d like to know more about the different types of editing!

Yay! The good news: I love editing, and I’ve focused my entire career around providing people with exactly what they need in the simplest terms possible! The other good news: learning the difference between editing types isn’t as complicated as many make it seem! Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments or contact me directly. Let’s get started!

Manuscript Evaluations

A cutting of a lavender plant resting on old, wrinkled papers
Manuscript evaluations are a short (typically a letter between seven and twenty pages) assessment of your work. It overviews general strengths and weaknesses and highlights ways to improve your manuscript. A manuscript evaluation is useful for writers who need a guide for next steps to take with their manuscript or find themselves stuck on story construction and development. Manuscript evaluations are best for incomplete works or works which need more structure before moving into the next editing stages. Manuscript evaluations are not as in-depth—you don’t have personalized comments on the manuscript itself to go by—as developmental editing, but they offer a great alternative if you aren’t yet ready for the heavy-lifting developmental editing requires.

Developmental Editing

An open-faced, empty book with a pen to the right side
Developmental editing (aka content editing or substantive editing) takes a close look at your entire manuscript and asks questions about characters, plot, and overall connection throughout the story. This type of editing is typically the first type done when looking at a complete manuscript as the process often sees your work undergo much change via rewrites, chapter moving, cuts, additions, etc. Proper developmental editing will provide you with the knowledge to make the most of your story! A good developmental editor works closely with you, the author, and will provide you with personal feedback on your manuscript pages as well as proposals for revision.

Line Editing

An open liquid ink pen laying on a piece of paper with some cursive writing in black
Next up is line editing! Many people use copyediting and line editing interchangeably, but the truth is, line editing focuses specifically on the content and flow of your work. Line editing sounds exactly like the title: a line editor is going to take your work on a line-by-line basis and help you strengthen your work. This type of editing has a greater focus on making sure your manuscript sounds just like you!


A calligraphy pen in mid-motion writing a letter
Copyediting–or copy editing, both spellings are acceptable. Just be consistent!–is the type of editing most people naturally think of when someone says, “Hey, will you edit this for me?” Copyediting is the process of going through your work for grammar, spelling, capitalization, repetition, incorrect dialogue tags, inconsistencies, etc. All these things fall under the purview of copyediting and are an integral part of the editing process.


A stack of two books with a cutting of lavender resting on top
Proofreading is the last thing done to your manuscript before publication. Major errors should have been fixed during copy and line editing, allowing a smooth read of your book for your proofreader. Proofreading acts as the “final glance” before your manuscript is shipped out for printing! This type of editing requires a sharp eye to catch small errors missed during the other editing stages.

Feel more confident about which type of editing is which? Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions either through commenting on this post or through my contact page! I’m more than happy to assist you on your journey.

~ Anna

Last Updated February 2023