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Comparison: Copy Editing vs. Substantive Editing - Enago

Copy Editing vs. Substantive Editing

 

It is critical for any writer to understand the different types of editing. When you pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your writing, the last thing you want is to send it off to an editor and have it returned with only minor changes when you were hoping for intensive feedback. Similarly, if you’ve already put the work into reviewing, revising, and reorganizing your manuscript and just want someone to check for spelling errors, you certainly don’t want the editor to give you comments about how you could restructure your whole paper. If you clearly know the differences in types of editing, you will be able to ask for what you need from an editor. What are the differences between substantive editing and copy editing, and when do you need them?

Molding Your Writing Through Substantive Editing
If we imagine your writing as a lump of clay that you would like to shape into a beautiful pot, then we can consider substantive editing the step of molding your rough shape into a more refined vessel. Substantive editing can be a useful step for all kinds of documents, from academic research papers to business proposals. Substantive editing is when an editor looks at your document from a broad perspective and analyzes the overall content and message that your work is trying to send. Is what you want to say clear? Is it organized in a way that makes sense and is easy to follow? Are there any gaps in logical flow or strange jumps between topics? A substantive editor will ask all of these questions and make suggestions for how your writing can be improved. They will work with you to understand clearly who the writing is for and where it will be published. They will also help improve any sections of your paper that are particularly weak or lacking.

If you have any kind of document that requires substantive editing, you may wonder how do I edit a document online? You can search for substantive editing services online to find a suitable editor for your writing. Thanks to the proliferation of online writing and globalization, substantive editing services that specialize in various types of documents abound online. You should seek out substantive editing or substantive editing services when you have some writing that you know is generally in the area where you want it to be but could use some serious content enhancement. Just as it is often difficult to assess yourself in any area, it can be very challenging to perform substantive editing on your own work. That is why substantive editing services have grown so popular.

Refining Your Document Through Copy Editing
If substantive editing is the process of shaping your clay into what looks like a pot, then copy editing is the process of adding finer details that make the pot beautiful and nice to look at. Copy editing looks at spelling and grammar, language used, style and consistency, and formatting. Copy editing is generally performed after substantive editing has already been completed. This is because there is not much point in carefully refining the wording of a section of writing that will later be deleted from the paper. Copy editing should generally be done only after a document has gone through any major changes or revisions.

Copy editing can be performed on any kind of document, and there are a variety of copy editing services online that will do just that. Academics who are concerned about having a non-subject matter expert review their work can turn to academic copy editing services to ensure that their work is reviewed by someone familiar with their field. While a non-academic copy editor can do a great job editing a news article or business report, they may struggle to make corrections to academic papers with scientific formulas or specialized terms. This is why academic copy editing services have become popular. You can hire an academic copy editing service to find a chemist who knows what the data in your paper means and who can catch punctuation errors that might escape a non-subject matter expert.

The Editing and Proofreading Process
Whether you need substantive editing, copy editing, or academic copy editing services, the process for each is generally the same. You provide an editor with information about your document, such as who will read it and where it will be published. A substantive editor will ask you many questions about your writing style and intended message. A copy editor will ask you questions focused on formatting, language style (US or UK English?), and citation style if they are an academic copy editor. They will then review your paper and send it to you with changes, comments, and suggestions. Substantive editors will generally be more “hands-on” with communicating with you regarding changes since substantive editing involves bigger alterations. Copy editors may ask you for clarification or additional fact checks.

Substantive editing and copy editing should not be confused with proofreading, which is a separate process. Proofreading is the final step of reviewing a document and involves a careful check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and abbreviation errors. A proofreader should be used for the final check before publication to make sure no errors slipped by.

To summarize, substantive editing and copy editing cover the following :

Type of Change

Substantive Editing

Copy Editing

Major organizational changes

O

X

Suggestions for adding content

O

X

Style and consistency check

O

O

Logical flow

O

O

Formatting

X

O

Fact checks

O

O

Spelling and punctuation check

X

O

While there is some minor overlap between substantive editing and copy editing, it is important not to confuse the two so that you always know what to expect and ask for when hiring an editing service. Many editing services online offer substantive editing services, copy editing services, and even academic copy editing services, so make sure to look around to find one that offers everything you need.



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