When you think of an editor, you might imagine a bookish professional using a red pen to circle misspellings, split infinitives, and dangling modifiers. While these editors certainly exist, they are not representative of the many editors you are likely to encounter.
In fact, there are as many types of editor as there are apples. In addition to the foundational editing professionals—line editors, developmental editors, copyeditors, and proofreaders—there are more niches than we can count. For today, we’re only going to concern ourselves with the former.
A developmental editor worries about the content of the story they’re editing. Why did this character do that? Why does this happen in chapter three? Et cetera. Developmental editors help their clients execute an idea by offering expertise, guidance, and perspective.
Instead of correcting grammatical and spelling errors, line editors are more concerned with style, content, and language. A line editor focuses on things like sentence structure, syntax, word choice, and flow.
The term ‘copyeditor’ is often used as a catchall, scooping up every editor it finds. But copyediting, like line or developmental editing, has a specific purpose: to review and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar. They may also concern themselves with style and flow, but these are more in the realm of a line editor.
Proofreaders are the last line of defense before copy is sent to print. They ensure the quality of the text, as well as its layout, consistency, and accuracy. During this stage of editing, major changes are very limited, with none being ideal. A proofreader literally reads a proof, like for a book, and makes sure everything is in order.
These four types of editors tend to go hand-in-hand, needed and used at different stages of the publication process. Do you need all of them for your project? If not, what kind of editor do you need?
Every writer and every writing project can benefit from having an editor, but how do you know which kind of editor you need? Unless you’re writing a book, you usually won’t need four different editors (though they probably couldn’t hurt). If you need your website edited, for example, a general editor is going to be plenty. If you need content edited for a bigger project, ask a copywriter what they recommend.
It’s common to find editors who do a bit of everything and who can take content from start to finish, especially in smaller markets.
TPM, for example, is a one-stop shop; our editors are capable of providing developmental guidance and advice, as well as line editing, copy editing, and proofreading services. We take care of the whole kit and caboodle. We also offer niche editing services for more specialized projects:
Dialogue is tricky. Unrealistic or awkward dialogue can easily ruin a movie or book. And even though most of us can recognize bad dialogue from a mile away, good dialogue is difficult to write. This is due in part to spoken language being fundamentally different from written language. An accomplished writer may be able to write gorgeous prose at the drop of a hat, but choke when it comes to writing realistic and engaging conversations.
Thesis papers, white papers, research, and academic books all fall within this category. Every editor on our team is familiar with the language, styles, and standards expected of academic work. We understand the importance of formatting, tone, and language, as well as clarity and development of ideas. Producing a successful academic paper is stressful, which is why we’re happy to accept some of the burden.
Do you have questions? Send us a message and we’ll be happy to provide some answers.