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Editing & Proofreading

For fiction, nonfiction, company reports and business publications

Bring out the best in your writing with expert copy editing and proofreading

Editing is the process of checking and polishing text to reduce errors, improve clarity and create a more impactful reading experience. You’ll need one or more of the following types of editing:

1. Proofreading

The proof edit is the lightest level of involvement and takes the form of a careful read-through of text that has already been copy edited. The aim is to catch any superficial errors such as misspelled words, missing punctuation, extra paragraph breaks, and incorrect formatting. Proofreading traditionally happens on the hardcopy page proofs (hence the name proofreading) rather than in the electronic document. Add a round of proofreading if it’s absolutely critical that you eliminate as many errors as possible. This is especially important in work that is published in print form.

2. Copy editing

Copy editing – also known as text editing – is where the grammar, spelling, punctuation and general error corrections happen.
A copy editor will:

  • do minor rephrasing to simplify sentences and reduce ambiguity
  • cut redundancies and repetitions
  • make corrections for grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • ensure internal consistency (e.g., spelling of characters’ names, consistency in format of writing numbers and dates, capitalisation of headlines)
  • ensure compliance with any required style guide
  • make margin notes for anything that needs your attention

Typically, a copy edit is focused on the mechanics of sentence structure and error correction rather than on the meaning of what is being communicated. Copy editing is usually priced according to the level of work needed. My copy editing levels are:

  • Light: for fluent English speakers who are also skilled writers and where the text has already been reviewed by at least one objective reader.
  • Medium: for English second-language speakers or writers who want a bit more assistance with error checking and expression.
  • Heavy: for second-language writers and/or those who need a fair amount of rephrasing and correction.

3. Stylistic, structural and line editing

Beyond the error and consistency checking of the copy edit we get more in-depth edits that look at style, expression, meaning and logical structure. These levels go by different names, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve put them all together in one level and called it the style and structure edit.

The style and structure edit will make sure your text communicates effectively, uses an appropriate language level for your audience, and strikes the right mood and tone. This may involve a fair amount of rephrasing and, possibly, some rearranging of paragraphs. Whereas the copy edit focuses on correctness at the sentence level, the style and structure edit looks at the sentence and its role in the paragraph and the chapter as a whole. It may also go as far as to suggest chapter reorganisation or renaming.
I recommend you get a style and structure edit if:

  • you are not fluent in English
  • writing is not your strong point and you need rephrasing for style, clarity and impact
  • you need to make sure your story is engaging or that readers can follow your logical argument
  • you need the language to be toned up or down to meet a particular audience (e.g., you are a lawyer and you want your legal language to be rephrased so it is understood by the general public)

I offer the style and structure edit as an add-on to the copy edit See the cost calculators below.

4. Developmental editing

Developmental editing moves beyond what the author has written on the page and looks at story development. The editor doesn’t edit the text but may mark passages for reworking and provide a separate report document outlining what needs to be done to complete the work. In this sense it has a diagnostic function, which is why it is sometimes called book doctoring. A developmental edit helps you develop and troubleshoot the story before it is fully written, whereas the previous editing levels work on the complete text. I cover this level of edit in my editorial assessment service.

Estimate your editing costs

Editing portfolio

A small selection of some of the books I have edited or proofread.

Russel Brownlee Tuin der Plagen
Business in the 21st Century - book edited
Charlize Theron biography cover
Ghetto Ninja book cover
A million miles from normal book cover
Charlize Theron biography cover
Ghetto Ninja book cover
A million miles from normal book cover

Editing readiness

Before you think about getting text editing, first assess whether your manuscript is ready for this step. It is a general rule in publishing that first drafts of book-length works are seldom ready for copy editing. Take this publishing readiness quiz to find out whether your work is ready for text editing or whether it first needs an editorial assessment or a developmental edit. Or subscribe using the box below and get my 25-page ebook on how to get your manuscript ready for editing and save hundreds of dollars in publishing costs.

Get in Touch

Contact Russel now to find out about editing, author coaching or manuscript development.