Services and Definitions

Copyediting and Proofreading

Not all copyediting and proofreading terms mean the same things to the same people. Proofreading, in fact, is one of those terms. Although I include proofreading as one of my services, it is included for those who think of proofreading as interchangeable with copyediting.

For those involved in either traditional book publishing or e-book publishing, proofreading is defined as checking the final form of a book before publishing, and takes place long after copyediting. With e-books, this means checking the book in full-text format; in traditional publishing, it means checking the typeset pages. That is a very specific skill set, and not included in the services I provide.

What I Do

So what do I do when I copyedit a book manuscript, or a draft of an essay, blog post, or website page?  I perform mechanical, language, and content editing, and usually prepare a style sheet for the author. To make sure we’re on the same page – feel free to roll your eyes at that – here are my definitions for those (and a few related) terms:

Mechanical/basic/light editing

This is the level of copyediting with which most people are familiar. Light editing services include correcting spelling, grammar, syntax, and punctuation.

Language/line/medium editing

Medium editing services include light editing tasks, plus checking for consistency and clarity, applying specific format and style guide requirements, giving style and content notes, and creating a style sheet (see below).

Content/substantive/heavy editing

Substantive editing services include light and medium editing tasks, plus shifting and polishing the provided words and thoughts until they are in their best order, tense, and voice, just as you the author had always intended, ensuring a flowing and distraction-free experience for your readers while preserving your unique writer’s voice.

All editing is performed using Word’s Track Changes tool, so that you will see every correction or suggestion I make, and you will have the opportunity to accept or reject each proposed edit.

Style guide

A style guide is a tool that helps ensure consistency in usage. Usage, as opposed to grammar, covers issues like how and when italics, hyphens, and commas are used; whether or not certain terms are capitalized; and if it’s acceptable to always use he as a generic pronoun when referring to both men and women (it isn’t). There are a variety of general style guides available, the most popular in the U.S. being the Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook. Some publishers, publications, websites, and self-publishing authors have their own style guides.

Style sheet

Created and updated during copyediting, a style sheet is a page (or more often, several) which notes all the editorial choices made by the author and the copy editor about such matters as spelling, punctuation, format, and abbreviations within the manuscript or draft. It also includes the spelling of all names and unusual words, and in the case of fiction manuscripts, it can include descriptions of the characters and their relationships to each other.

In e-book and traditional book production, the style sheet is a consistency aid for everyone involved, from author to designer to formatter. For bloggers, the style sheet can be continually updated with choices made in new posts; it helps ensure consistency and branding for the blog, and is a helpful resource for any new contributors to your site.

The style sheet that I create for you is yours to keep for future reference in your next book or post, or I can create an entirely new one, listing all your new choices, for each of your new projects.

Questions? Contact me by filling out the form below, or email me at