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  • Anna Nelson

Do You Know What Type of Editing You Need?

Updated: Jun 24, 2023

hand holding a pen, ready to make marks on the business document

You’ll see in the description of our services, and through the publishing world, several different types of editing referenced. For writers who are unfamiliar with the process, these descriptions can be confusing and often somewhat ambiguous. So, here’s a detailed breakdown to keep you on the right track to get the editing services your written content needs.

Editing Type 1: Content Editing - also known as structural and/or developmental editing

A Content Edit looks at the overall structure and content of your work at provides suggestions for changes you can make to improve it. Items like clarity, consistency, and efficient use of language are considered. The audience is taken into account (as a technical/scientific work will often read differently than a fiction novel) and the overall goal is to provide you with specific feedback that makes your work easy to read and understand. Suggested edits can be provided in two ways: either as notes/comments that the writer takes to do their own re-write or as actual re-working of the written content by the editor. At One Small Step, we are happy to accommodate either editing style based on our client’s needs.

What’s included in a Content Edit?

  • Pre-meeting with your editor to ensure we are on the same page with your goals for the written content.

  • Review your work based on those goals.

  • Suggesting/reworking areas of your work to improve the clarity, flow, and structure.

  • Ensuring that tone is consistent throughout the document.

  • Fact-checking and researching key topics for accuracy.

  • Analyzing content for audience understandability and to remove redundancy.

  • Providing recommendations on how to create more compelling/impactful arguments.

  • Post-meeting to review all recommendations.

Editing Type 2: Copy Editing - also known as a line edit

A Copy Edit focuses on your book’s readability and ensures your writing flows smoothly and makes sense to your readers from one section to the next. Similar to a Content Edit, technical issues like consistency, clarity, and grammar are evaluated but from a more minute scale. Instead of considering the entire piece, a Copy Edit looks at the work sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph. While individual paragraphs may be restructured and reworked to improve readability, a Copy Edit won’t analyze the structure of the entire work except to identify consistency issues. Instead, more focus is placed on clear language, punctuation, and grammar. Again, these editing changes can be presented as suggestions to the writer, or they can be done as actual re-writes by the editor. Though, the suggested method is used more commonly in a Copy Edit.

What’s included in a Copy Edit?

  • Pre-meeting with your editor to ensure we are on the same page with your goals for the written content. (As needed.)

  • Reviewing work for readability and flow; reworking sentences and paragraphs for clarity.

  • Correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

  • Identifying typos and inconsistencies.

  • Improving sentence structure for efficiency and clarity.

  • Post-meeting to review all recommendations. (As needed.)

Editing Type 3: Proofreading

Proofreading is a cursory review for spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors. It only focuses on your spelling, grammar, punctuation, typos, and consistency. A proofread is like spell check taken to the next level. A Proofread is almost always provided to the writer as suggestions that they change themselves. This prevents any confusion and allows the writer to be actively involved in the fine-tuning process. But most editors (the ones at One Small step included) can be flexible and accommodate your needs.

What’s included in a Proofread?

  • Pre-meeting with your editor to ensure we are on the same page with your goals for the written content. (As needed.)

  • Identifying all spelling, grammar, and punctuation issues.

  • Correcting typos.

  • Review your text for consistency in style and formatting.

  • Post-meeting to review all recommendations. (As needed.)

human writing with  feather quill and ink

You'll notice there is some cross-over between each of the three types of editing. And, in reality, they work best when done in combination. Editing is, at its best, a process. Blending editing types together helps to produce the most polished content. Typically, writers will start with a Content Edit on a piece, progress to a Copy Edit, and put the finishing touches on the content by having it Proofread. At One Small Step Writing Services, we are happy to discuss options with you and get you to the proper level of editing so your message shines.

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