Copyediting and line editing


copyediting &
line editing

Much in the way you don’t think about the sidewalk beneath your feet unless it’s unevenly paved or has random gaps, a reader is less aware of a copyeditor’s presence than a copyeditor’s absence.


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Copyediting is not only about making your text shiny and sparkly—removing any grammatical, stylistic, or content errors that can trip up a reader or make a text look less than professional—but also about making sure you are still present in your work.


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In my experience, almost all copyediting involves simultaneous line editing. With the few exceptions that I outline at the end of this section, line editing plus copyediting is probably what you want from a “copyeditor.”

Line editing, or stylistic editing, focuses on content and considers things like

  • paragraph structure (e.g., increasing readability
    and flow)

  • sentence structure (e.g., eliminating passive voice or convoluted structure)

  • word usage (e.g., connotative issues, repetition)

  • redundant and contradictory statements

  • stylistic choices (e.g., audience considerations, identifying clichés)

Copyediting focuses on mechanics and considers
things like

  • style consistency

  • grammar and spelling

  • punctuation choice and placement

  • citation formatting

  • some fact checking


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Standalone copyediting is a good option if another editor has already reviewed your text or you need your text (and citations) to conform to a specific style before submission. This includes a journal's in-house style sheet or a university's chosen style guide, such as Chicago, MLA,
and Harvard.