Copyediting is a separate step—one of those that you may consider hiring another editor to do after a Substantive Edit. It is a cleanup edit to prepare for submission through queries or self-publishing. It focuses on line-edits, consistency and correctness of spelling, word usage, cross-reference checks, enforces parallelism in running text, etc. Each level of copyediting adds specificity to the edit.

Light Copyediting (baseline editing): Content has met the substantive requirements for characterization, point of view consistency, setting development, plot organization, sub-plot resolution, tension, pacing, transitions from scene to scene and chapter to chapter, and so forth. Now your manuscript needs attention and correction for basic English punctuation, grammar, spelling, and tense, as well as typographical errors. This is light copyediting in a nutshell:

Corrects grammar such as split infinitives and punctuation

Corrects typos, numbering, labeling

Corrects word usage (such as imminent for eminent)

Corrects tense

Checks cross-referenced materials for accuracy (such as, “As Table 10-4 shows…”)*NF

Checks for proper sequencing (such as alphabetical order) in lists. *NF

Flagging inconsistencies in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalization

Uses the track changes or other tools to typemark the manuscript

Medium Copyediting: Includes all tasks for light copyediting as well as more complex tasks, which is one reason to consider a second pair of eyes on the document.

Recommends text changes and heading revisions to achieve parallel structure

Ensures key terms are handled consistently: *NF and Digital Marketing

Ensures vocabulary lists and the index meet criteria specified by the publisher *NF

Ensures previews, summaries, and end-of-chapter questions show the content *NF

Tracks the continuity of plot, setting, and character traits, querying the discrepancies

Recommends changes as needed from passive voice to active voice

Flags ambiguous or incorrect statements

Heavy Copyediting: The key differences between heavy and medium copyediting are the levels of judgment and rewriting involved. In a heavy copyedit, the editor improves the flow of text and not simply ensures correct usage and grammar; may enforce a uniform level, tone, and focus as specified by the publisher.

Recommends text changes and heading revisions to achieve parallel structure

Copyediting – Digital Media: Same as heavy copyediting plus:

Length for genre


Keyword density, and SEO appropriateness

Isolates errors in headers, titles, website detail, errors in pictures (picture books figures, clothes, toys, animals are consistent from page to page in style, color, size)

Fees are based on nationally accepted standards. Payment plans are available.

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