Editing and proofreading seem to go hand-in-hand. But there are various levels to editing which sets it apart from proofreading fundamentally. Most people have a general idea of what “editing” means, but what about line editing? How different is this process from copyediting? Well, they are actually very different processes.
The easiest way to remember what they are is to think of copyediting as closer to proofreading. Some people consider copyediting to be a more in-depth version of proofreading because it involves similar techniques and skills. So if copyediting is closer to proofreading, then what is line editing and how does it differ?
According to the website for the New York Book Editors, a line edit is:
A line edit addresses the creative content, writing style, and language use at the sentence and paragraph level. But the purpose of a line edit is not to comb your manuscript for errors – rather, a line edit focuses on the way you use language to communicate your story to the reader. Is your language clear, fluid, and pleasurable to read? Does it convey a sense of atmosphere, emotion, and tone? Do the words you’ve chosen convey a precise meaning, or are you using broad generalizations and clichés?
This is very different from what an editor might do or even what a copyeditor might do. A copyeditor will look at the mistakes and errors on a technical level. They will also fact check your writing and ensure it is correct. They may even question specific parts of the book to ensure consistency. A copyeditor is also usually the last person to touch the manuscript. In contrast, the line edit takes place much earlier on in the process of creating a body of work that is ready for publishing.
What type of editor do you think you might be? Do you enjoy correcting grammatical errors and spelling mistakes? Or would you prefer to be involved in the process of language and how it is used to communicate with a reader? These are some of the questions you might ask yourself if you were looking at a career in the editing field.