Copy Editing, Line Editing, Substantive Editing

If you’re on this page, you want to find out which type of editing your manuscript needs. Hopefully, the descriptions will give you an idea.

Copy Editing

This is the bare-bottom basic of mechanical editing. It covers:

•    Spelling (includes checking for homonyms)
•    Punctuation (periods, commas, semicolons, dashes, etc.)
•    Typos
•    Grammar (verb tense, numerals, etc.)

A homonym is a word that sounds just like another word, but has a different spelling and meaning. (e.g., hear/here/hair; it’s/its, to/too/two). These are words that spell-check won’t usually pick up.

Line Editing

This is the mechanical aspect of editing. Line editing includes checking for:

•    Copy Editing
•    Run-on sentences
•    Sentence clarity
•    Overuse of adverbs and adjective
•    Words used to begin sentences and paragraphs
•    And, more

It also checks for certain inconsistencies, such as:

•    Are the chapter titles all written the same?
•    Are names, such as countries and states, treated the same?

The manuscript is checked line-by-line. This is one of the most common editing requests.

Substantive Editing (Content Editing)

According to the CMS [Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, 2.46]:

“Substantive editing deals with the organization and presentation of content. It involves rewriting to improve style or eliminate ambiguity, reorganizing or tightening, recasting tables, and other remedial activities. (It should not be confused with developmental editing, a more drastic process; see 2.45.)”

This form of editing is in-depth. This is where the entire story is checked, line-by-line. It includes:

•    Line Editing
•    Rephrasing/rewriting sentences
•    Rephrasing/rewriting paragraphs
•    Checking for tight writing
•    Check POV (point of view)
•    Checking plot credibility
•    Advising if particular content (sentence/paragraph/story) is appropriate for children
•    Checking for clarity
•    Checking for readability
•    And much more

This form of editing is time consuming and can take up to four weeks.

NOTE: It often happens that the author doesn’t realize the needs of her/his manuscript. Your editor should let you know if it’d be a good idea to ‘take it up a notch.’ Obviously, it’s the author’s choice, but the editor should let you know.

What’s the point of paying for line editing if the story’s structure needs an overall.

I’m a working editor, specializing in children’s picture book to middle-grade manuscripts. So, why not let me take a look at yours.

I’d be happy to give you a 250 word sample edit of your manuscript. Unfortunately, I need to charge $11.00 for this service. But, if you use my services for the same manuscript, that fee will be deducted from the price.

Please note, this does not apply to picture books, as that could be half or one-third of your manuscript.

If you’d like to discuss a project, please email me at: Please put “Writing Services” in the subject line.

4 thoughts on “Copy Editing, Line Editing, Substantive Editing

  1. Karen has been my editor for two books, and will be my choice for all others that follow. She is supportive and really works with you to try and get the most professional product out there in the right voice for your audience. I cannot recommend her enough!

  2. Hello Karen.
    Thank you for your quick response.
    I will sit with my partner this evening and show her what you have sent to me.
    Will get back to you asap on this.
    Thsnk you very much for your time.

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