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What is the Difference Between Developmental, Copy, and Line Editing?

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Completing a manuscript is hard. It requires tenacity, courage, creativity, and a team of people ready to help you get your piece to exactly where it needs to be before publishing. Part of the process of preparing your manuscript to be shared with the world involves editing. Editing is one of the most important aspects of completing a piece of writing and can take your piece from unpublishable to successful. Once your first draft of a manuscript is complete, it will go through multiple rounds of editing to help it be as finely tuned and effective as possible.

Three major types of editing services that most accomplished authors will use are developmental, copy, and line editing. But what is the difference between developmental, copy, and line editing?

What Is Developmental Editing?

Developmental editing speaks to the big-picture elements of your story. Your first draft will be a finished piece of work with a completed plot and an intact beginning, middle, and end to your story. After drafting, your manuscript would be submitted to an editor so that they can search for things like plot holes, weak character building, confusing plot lines, unnatural dialogue, etc.

It is so important because it helps hone in on the parts of the story that might need rewrites in order to make it successful. This phase of editing occurs before copy editing and does not involve grammar or smaller details; it mainly focuses on the broader elements of the story. This is to ensure that any fine-tuning that is done will not have to be redone after major rewrites.

Copy Editing

Copy editing takes place after developmental editing but before line editing. It is a critical phase wherein an editor will use a more fine tooth comb to uncover the grammar-based issues that might exist in your work. The editor will correct problems with:

  • Grammar

  • Spelling

  • Punctuation

  • Misused words

  • Improper phrasing

The focus here is on typos. Once copy editing is complete, the manuscript should be cohesive, readable, and almost ready for publication.

Line Editing

While line editing and copy editing do have some similarities, line editing has more to do with finding the best use of language and the most compelling way to get a point across to readers. Copy editing might look to adjust syntax, eliminate unnecessary words, sharpen descriptions and refine the flow. They will make sure that the tone and style are in keeping with the author’s voice and check your work for a cohesive point of view. Line editing focuses on how the language itself is working and whether it is being presented in the best ways possible.

Why Hire an Editor?

As with most creative endeavors, writing a successful manuscript takes a village. Oftentimes, an author has strengths in certain areas, like character development or dialogue. Another author may specialize in memoirs and have the ability to create a scene that pulls the reader into another time and place. Most people, however, are not strong in every area of writing and can benefit greatly from the services that editors offer.

Having an editor to do developmental, copy, or line editing for your manuscript is similar to getting a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in your medical condition. The more eyes that are looking over the same project, the better. The editor will catch things that you might not, and they are trained to uncover how to get the very best from your piece of writing.

Help Your Work Stand Out With Making A Way Writing

The editing provided at Making a Way Writing Services can make the difference between your work finding its way to the publication of your choice or sitting in a pile of unused submissions. Let the experts who devote their time and energy every day to bring out the very best in authors’ work guide you from the first draft to publication. Reach out at 203-645-2000 or by email at

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