Developmental editing can include consultation before the writing begins. The developmental editor may help plan the organization, features, and other aspects of the work, and prepare developmental reviews or analyzes. Duties often include the following:
- Suggesting formats to communicate the message.
- Rewriting and restructuring the text to fit the format.
- Moving entire paragraphs and sentences to improve flow.
- Ensuring consistent structure by adding or deleting headings.
- Identifying gaps in content, and supplying or describing the needed copy, so the author can resolve them.
- Deleting content that is outdated or that does not achieve the desired marketing focus or tone.
- Developing an effective system for handling trademarks and notes.
Developmental editing may also involve altering the content to meet the recommendations of reviewers and determining the style and general content of the illustrations and/or diagrams.
At all levels of copyediting—light, medium, and heavy—the copyeditor corrects errors, queries the author about conflicting statements, requests advice when the means of resolving a problem is unclear, and prepares a style sheet. The copyeditor may also incorporate the author’s replies to queries; this work is known as cleanup editing. Before work begins, freelance editors should determine if the copyediting fee will cover cleanup editing or if cleanup editing will be performed for an additional fee.
Light Copyediting (baseline editing)
- Correcting faulty spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Correcting incorrect usage (such as can for may).
- Checking specific cross-references (for example, “As Table 14-6 shows…”).
- Ensuring consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization.
- Checking for proper sequencing (such as alphabetical order) in lists and other displayed material.
- Recording the first references to figures, tables, and other display elements.
A light copyedit does not involve interventions such as smoothing transitions or changing heads or text to ensure parallel structure. The editor checks content only to detect spots where a copy is missing. A light copyedit may include typemarking.
- Performing all tasks for light copyediting.
- Changing text and headings to achieve parallel structure.
- Flagging inappropriate figures of speech.
- Ensuring that key terms are handled consistently and that vocabulary lists and the index contain all the terms that meet criteria specified by the publisher.
- Ensuring that previews, summaries, and end-of-chapter questions reflect the content.
- Tracking the continuity of plot, setting, and character traits, and querying the discrepancies, in fiction manuscripts.
- Enforcing consistent style and tone in a multi-author manuscript.
- Changing passive voice to active voice, if requested.
- Flagging ambiguous or incorrect statements.
- Typemarking the manuscript.
Heavy Copyediting (substantive editing)
- Performing all tasks for medium copyediting.
- Eliminating wordiness, triteness, and inappropriate jargon.
- Smoothing transitions and moving sentences to improve readability.
- Assigning new levels to heads to achieve logical structure.
- Suggesting—and sometimes implementing—additions and deletions, noting them at the sentence and paragraph level.
The key differences between heavy and medium copyedit are the levels of judgment and rewriting involved. In a heavy copyedit, the editor improves the flow of text rather than simply ensuring correct usage and grammar; may suggest recasts rather than simply flagging problems; and may enforce a uniform level, tone, and focus as specified by the publisher or developmental editor.
A proofreader marks typeset copy word for word against a manuscript, identifies deviations for correction, and queries editorial errors. Proofreaders may also check copy for conformity to type specifications, create a style sheet, and ensure attractive typography by checking kerning, margins, word spacing, repetitive word breaks, and the like. If a proofreader is not given a copy marked manuscript to refer to when proofing final materials, it can be referred to as “blind” or “cold” proofreading.
An editorial proofreader combines proofreading with some copyediting tasks if they are needed late in the production process. This can include correcting errors such as misspellings, typos, misnumbering or mislabeling, subject-verb disagreement, word usage (such as the use of imminent for eminent), and identifying incorrect or outdated cross-references. If a copy is missing, the proofreader requests the copy. Editorial proofreading may also involve typemarking, and making marginal notes to show the first citation of illustrations, tables, and other display elements. If instructed, single quotation marks are changed to double quotation marks as needed in running text and in displayed extracts. When a manuscript consists of typeset text, the proofreader will check for incorrect word breaks.
At this level, the editorial proofreader adds punctuation to delineate a restrictive clause only if the change will prevent confusion, retains secondary spellings and the existing footnote or endnote system, and does not tamper with word choice or marginally incorrect punctuation (such as semicolons in a simple series) unless requested to do so.
Publishers often request editorial proofreading when the previously published material is to be reprinted, or when there are concerns about possible input errors in the material that has been heavily edited or drastically reformatted.