Copyediting / Line Editing


Line editing and copyediting are two different types of close-in editing that happen after a book's big picture is set and finalized. It's not uncommon to request one, but really mean (or need) the other. I picked this photo to illustrate my point: This is an actual photo of my back yard, and, wow, it's a mess, right? There are some things that even Instagram filters can't fix—and that's exactly the point! Copyediting can put a technical shine on the manuscript, but if the weeds are still there, it won't make that much difference to the landscaping overall.

So let's talk a bit about what line editing and copyediting are, to help figure out which one might be right for your project.

Line Editing

The primary focus of a line edit isn't about pointing out technical errors, but rather about focusing on whether your writing flows, if it's creating the emotion intended, if the action makes sense, and if the dialogue sounds like people are saying it. Does the point of view choice serve the story, and does it remain consistent throughout? Do the scene transitions work, or do they feel choppy and disjointed? How is your word choice—are the words clear and focused, or are they bland and vague? Is there anywhere that needs to be tightened up, or redundancy corrected? Are there places where there just isn't enough? Line editing can help.


While line editing works more with style and flow, copyediting focuses more on technical correctness and internal consistency. Are you using punctuation correctly? Are things spelled right? Was that character green-eyed in one place, but brown-eyed in another? And what was their last name again? If you are happy with the plot, structure, tone, and style of your story, then copyediting might be the right choice for you.