What Are the Different Types of Editing?


Every piece of writing needs editing, from marketing materials to training manuals, social media posts, website content, and everything in between. The editing process helps you create the best version of your written content possible.

As a critical step in content creation, editing is more than just checking for grammar and spelling issues. It is important to understand the different types of editing services available so that you work with an editor whose skill set matches your needs.

There are many types of editing, each of which plays an important role in the revisions process as you take a piece of content from a rough draft to the high-quality final version. We will take a look at what each type of editing process entails and how the right editing services ensure that you create quality content that aligns with your brand voice and target audience.

Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is typically the first step of the editing process. As its name suggests, it occurs in the development phase of content writing and looks at big-picture issues affecting your writing.

A developmental edit focuses on content and structure rather than grammar, word choice, or punctuation. The editor addresses issues such as:

  • Organization and structure
  • Formatting and flow
  • Clarity and authority
  • Marketing and target audience

When it comes to developmental editing, the goal is to take a comprehensive view of how the main pieces of your written content work together to communicate your ideas. Developmental editors are problem solvers who help you eliminate gaps and excesses in your writing to deliver high-quality, compelling content.

Substantive Editing

Also known as content editing, a substantive edit aims to improve the composition and organization of a piece of content. A content editor delves into the words themselves, guiding how the writing should flow to strengthen your position for maximum impact with your target audience.

During the editing process, a content editor reviews the piece of writing to optimize its flow, readability, and ease of understanding. This helps ensure that content is:

  • Accurate and error-free to position you as an authority on the topic.
  • Optimized for SEO.
  • Consistent with preferred style guide provisions.
  • Aligned with your overall digital marketing strategy.

Substantive editing takes what is already there and makes it more cohesive. As such, content editors often make significant revisions to the content, such as asking the content writer or copywriter to move, add, or eliminate an entire section to optimize the final product.

Copy Editing

While content editing looks at cohesiveness and flow, copy editing goes line-by-line to identify anything that makes a piece less readable. A copy editor aims to enhance the overall quality of the content or copy by focusing on word choice and grammar. This includes a number of responsibilities, such as:

  • Confirming adherence to brand voice and style guides
  • Improving readability by eliminating passive voice and awkward phrases or typos
  • Crafting effective headings and subheadings
  • Proofreading to correct spacing, formatting, grammatical, capitalization, and spelling errors
  • Rearranging content to improve syntax and sentence structure
  • Eliminating jargon and cliches to clarify the meaning
  • Fact-checking to ensure accuracy

Also known as line editing, this method of editing content ensures that your writing is error-free, consistent, and positioned to make the greatest impact on your audience. A copy editor can directly alter the content or offer suggestions for the writer to make changes.


The last stage of the editing process is proofreading. A proofreader carefully checks for errors before the content is published or shared. While content editing and copy editing might involve major revisions to structure and language, the goal of proofreading is to eliminate any outstanding inconsistencies or errors, such as:

  • Spelling errors and typos
  • Style inconsistencies, such as awkward spacing or formatting
  • Confusing sentence structures
  • Misplaced punctuation, such as comma splices

Proofreading shares many similarities with copy editing and line editing. It acts as a final safeguard against errors that could negatively impact your content strategy and search engine performance.

Does Your Business Need Editing Services?

Content errors aren’t just annoying—they can also confuse or mislead your readers, which is why it is so important to ensure you are producing the best content possible that is free of mistakes and inaccuracies.

Unedited content is likely to contain typos, inconsistencies, and other errors that negatively impact your content marketing and SEO strategy. Even spell checker functions found in Microsoft Word and other writing and editing tools cannot take the place of an experienced, professional editor.

The English language is fluid, changing and adapting as words and phrases change in meaning. ProEdit has a team of professional editors who are experienced in all different types of editing. Our editors do more than just correct typos—they ensure consistency in your content so that you create the best impression with your target audience.

Find out how ProEdit’s editing services can take your content creation to the next level.