5 Types of Editing That Result in High Quality Writing - Craft Your Content

5 Types of Editing That Result in High Quality Writing

At last, your first draft is ready. And yet, you’re not happy with it. Something is still missing even after many rounds of self-editing, and you’re wondering what to do next.

Sound familiar? Most likely, you need the assistance of a professional editor.

Before you ask, editors normally review a draft with the aim of improving it, all without changing the voice of the writer. They provide professional editing services by going through the writing in a step-by-step manner to identify and correct mistakes and errors with grammar, word usage, structure, composition, readability, flow, style, tone, and so on.

But guess what? 

Different types of editing can improve your writing in specific areas. As steps in the professional editing process, they’re supposed to be carried out in a specific order, one after the other. Some types of editing may also overlap with one another.

However, your writing may not require all the various types of editing. This depends on factors such as your level of expertise and experience as a writer, the type of writing you’re creating, and where it will be published.

For example, there can be different requirements for a traditionally published book versus a self-published book, for a book versus a blog post, or for a blog post for your personal blog versus a guest post written for publication on a high authority site. 

You can also individually pick the type of editing your writing needs, and look for an editor who is a specialist in that area, since most editors specialize in one or two types of editing. Alternatively, you can choose to work with an editing agency that provides all the different types of editing and can advise on what you need. 

Want to create high-quality content your target audience loves and constantly engages with?

Then check out the following five types of editing that can help, whether you write fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, articles, case studies, white papers, or any other type of writing.

Developmental Editing

types of professional editing
The first step in the editing process, before the red pen comes out.

With this type of editing, a piece of writing is evaluated using a broad, high-level view, without correcting the grammar or word usage.

Developmental editing is usually the first step in the editing process and, when required, should be done before all other types of editing. If not, you may need to do a major rewrite after other edits have been done, which means valuable time, energy, and other resources would have been wasted.  

While it’s useful for both new and experienced writers, most expert writers may not need it due to all the writing knowledge and experience they’ve gained over time.

If you write fiction, developmental editing can answer the following questions:

  • Does your plot have holes or appear too weak?
  • Are your characters interesting enough to grab attention?
  • Is there enough tension?
  • Does the story flow seamlessly from beginning to the end?
  • Are some parts of the dialogue confusing?

For nonfiction, it can also address the following:

  • Do all points and arguments make sense?
  • Is any important and relevant idea missing?
  • Are all points and ideas organized and arranged in the best order?

In short, whether you’re a brand-new writer or an experienced one, or someone who’s writing in a new niche or genre for the first time, working with a developmental editor early in the writing process can help you save time and avoid big mistakes that may require substantial writing and rewriting at a later stage.

Content Editing

This type of editing is the next step in the editing process and is ideal for content produced by both new and experienced writers. 

Also known as full or substantive editing, content editing goes into more details than developmental editing because it reviews your writing section by section and paragraph by paragraph.

Also, it helps to ensure that:

  • Your content has the right structure.
  • Your paragraphs, sections, and subsections flow well into each other.
  • Your writing has complete information.
  • You’re using the right tone and voice that can engage your target audience.

As a result, content editing can recommend rearranging paragraphs, sections, or subsections and also identify areas that should be removed. 

Line Editing

types of professional editing
Though not always necessary, this editing step involves sentence structure and word usage.

Also known as stylistic editing, line editing focuses mainly on sentences and word usage and is the next step in the editing process. Depending on various factors, it may not be necessary for every piece of writing you create. 

During this type of editing, your writing will be scrutinized and evaluated line by line to ensure that:

  • The right words and tenses are used throughout.
  • Your words match the desired tone.
  • The choice of words fit together well.
  • Your writing is free of unnecessary cliches.
  • Sentences flow well with each other.
  • Your target readers can read and understand your writing easily.
  • Your writing is not needlessly long.
  • Your message is communicated clearly.

Always remember that line editing will not check your structure or the arrangement of your sections and subsections. This means if all these are not addressed before line editing takes place, most likely the quality of your writing will remain low, no matter how good your sentences and word usage are.

That’s why it’s important for your writing to be edited in the right sequence, so take steps to get the structure right before line editing takes place. 

Copy Editing

Similar but different from proofreading, copy editing is the next step in the editing process and is concerned with the correct use of language. This means your writing is reviewed to identify and correct errors and mistakes in spelling, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. 

In addition, copy editing also involves:

  • Carrying out research to verify facts, figures, dates, statements, and so on.
  • Identifying unnecessary repetition.
  • Checking adherence to style guides.
  • Picking up any form of inconsistency about details like descriptions, settings, and so on.

Also referred to as mechanical editing, copy editing can require rewriting in some cases and usually goes into more depth than proofreading. It’s very important for both new and experienced writers, and it is always best to have it done when you’re sure you’ve finished writing. 


types of professional editing
This step catches any remaining mistakes, typos, punctuation errors, etc.

This is the final edit and quality check before a piece of writing goes live. It’s the last step in the entire editing process and helps to ensure that your writing is published without any mistakes or errors.

Proofreading is sometimes done on paper, because errors can be spotted faster than on a screen. It usually involves going through the writing patiently to identify and correct any remaining mistakes with spelling, grammar, punctuation, facts and figures, and any lingering errors in layout, formatting, and style.

On top of all that, proofreading also identifies any form of inconsistency for correction, like getting names of characters, businesses, and locations mixed up, along with their spellings.

Whether some or all the other types of editing were done or not, hiring a proofreader to review all types of writing before publishing is a standard best practice that a majority of expert writers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and professional authors do not take lightly. 

Work With an Editor and Craft Great Writing

High-quality writing is usually the end result of good writing that’s supported by professional editing.

Therefore, to produce outstanding writing, you should become familiar with the five different types of editing that can help, namely developmental editing, content editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading.

Beyond that, you also need to understand the proper hierarchy of using each type of editing and the right time to use each one in your writing process.

Not every piece you write will need all the five types, but those you need will likely depend on factors like your level of experience or expertise as a writer, the type of content you’re writing, the quality of your first draft, and where it will be published.

Bottom line, team up with a professional editor who specializes in the type of editing you need or team up with with a professional editing agency that can provide the various types of editing services you require, so you can confidently produce great writing at all times. 

About the Author Sola Kehinde

Sola Kehinde is a freelance content writer and SEO blog writer with 5+ years of experience. She helps businesses and brands engage their target audience, build trust, and gain more customers, with compelling long-form content. In addition to writing, editing & publishing topics, she also covers digital marketing, productivity and other business-related topics. Check out her LinkedIn profile to learn more!