Proofreading is the final stage before your work goes to print.
It is limited to correcting obvious errors overlooked during copyediting or introduced during the process of formatting, design, or file conversion.
Copyediting involves a near-final version and covers several areas:
- correcting mechanical errors such as grammar, punctuation, spelling, syntax, and word usage while at the same time preserving the meaning and “voice” of the original text
- imposing and documenting a consistent style for capitalization, use of numbers, punctuation, hyphens, abbreviations, formatting of lists, references, and so on
- correlating text to a table of contents, list of references, graphics, or exhibits
- addressing wordiness, awkward transitions, gaps in logic, and factual inconsistencies
In light copyediting, an editor will correct obvious errors but simply point out other issues such as wordiness, leaving changes entirely up to the author. In medium copyediting, an editor will offer suggested revisions, and in heavy copyediting, an editor will revise confusing text as needed and fix other problems. Editing is done in “track changes” mode so you can see what has been changed.
Substantive editing involves working with a full but unfinished document, and here an editor will help improve readability, clarity, and accuracy by carefully reviewing the organization, structure, and consistency of the content. All copyediting items are included. Several passes will probably be needed.
Developmental editing takes several forms, depending on the type of content, but usually involves an assessment of the project as a whole – organization, clarity, content, presentation, and tone. An editor may take a hand in writing, rewriting, and even researching. This is the most active of the editorial roles.