Types of editing

You can edit purely for mechanics or you can organize the structure of a paper.  The Editors Association of Canada[i] defines types of editing as:

Developmental / Project Editing

Co-ordinating and editing a project from proposal or rough manuscript to final manuscript, incorporating input from authors, consultants, and reviewers. It may include budgeting, hiring, design supervision, and project co-ordination.

Substantive or Structural Editing

Clarifying and/or reorganizing a manuscript for content and structure. Changes may be suggested to or drafted for the author. It may include negotiating changes with the author.

Stylistic Editing

Clarifying meaning, eliminating jargon, smoothing language, and other non-mechanical line-by-line editing. It may include checking or correcting reading level; creating or recasting tables and/or figures; negotiating changes with the author.


Creating a new manuscript or parts of a manuscript on the basis of content and research supplied by an author. It may include some research and writing of original material.

Copy Editing

Editing for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style; checking for consistency of mechanics and internal consistency of facts; marking head levels and approximate placement of art; notifying designer of any unusual production requirements. It may include Canadianizing; metrication; providing or changing system of citations; writing or editing captions and/or credit lines; writing running heads; listing permissions needed and/or obtaining them; providing or editing prelims, back matter, cover copy, and/or CIP data. It may include negotiating changes with the author.

N.B. "Copy editing" is often loosely used to include stylistic and even structural editing, fact checking, and mark-up. It is not so used by the Editors’ Association of Canada.

Picture Research

Locating suitable photos and/or artwork. It may include obtaining camera-ready reproductions; preparing descriptions, working sketches, and/or artist's references or co-ordinates for illustrations, maps, and diagrams; supervising production of final artwork; obtaining releases from and/or conducting financial negotiations with picture sources and artists; preparing labels, captions, and sources for typesetting.

Fact Checking / Reference Checking

Checking accuracy of facts and/or quotes by reference to original sources used by the author and/or from other sources.


Producing an alphabetical list of names and places and/or subjects and concepts, etc., that appear in a work.

Mark-Up / Coding

Adding designer-written specifications for typesetter or word processor.


Reading proofs of edited manuscript. Galley proofing may include incorporating and/or exercising discretion on author's alterations; flagging locations of art and page references; verifying computer codes. Page proofing may include checking adherence to mock-up (rough paste-up), accuracy of running heads, folios, and changes made to type in mock-up, checking page breaks and location of art, and inserting page numbers to table of contents and cross-references if necessary. It may include checking vandykes and colour mats (press proofs).

Mock-Up (Rough Paste-Up)

Producing a mock-up from proofs and marking proofs for changes necessitated by mock-up. It may include copyfitting and/or marking colour breaks.

Production Editing

Co-ordinating typesetting and design in the mock-up and assembly stages; includes ensuring integration of design and content. It may include actual mark-up, proofing, mock-up, page proofing, indexing, and/or checking vandykes and colour mats. It may include locating, negotiating with and supervising the designer, artists, typesetter, and printer; and creating a production schedule.

Most editors combine copy editing and stylistic editing, with a pinch of structural editing thrown in.  Don’t let the terminology throw you – remember you do what you can to help the author and the long-suffering readers.

Q: If I can't afford a computer, could I use a food processor instead of a word processor?

A: Yes. Use blend, not chop or grate, if you want to satisfy your readers. Such a substitution can actually be quite beneficial, particularly if you happen to be writing infomercials.[ii]

[i] http://www.editors.ca/hiring/skills.htm


[ii] www.writershome.com