Proofreading or copy-editing?


  • spelling
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • page numeration and typography
  • consistency of spellings and hyphenation
  • adhering to, or creating, a text style guide
  • cross-checking headings with table of contents
  • cross-checking references within the text to other parts and end matter (appendices, index, etc)


  • suitability of the text for intended audience (Is the language at the appropriate register? Do any terms need explanation?)
  • word/page limits – some texts may need to be shortened
  • heading and sub-heading structure, creation of glossaries, lists of table and figures
  • content: what is missing/unnecessary?; is content ordered logically?; is natural flow interrupted by lengthy digressions?
  • sentence and paragraph length must be tailored to the intended audience
  • spelling of names of people and places
  • flagging up breaches of copyright, plagiarism, libel, obscenity, incitement to discrimination/hatred of a particular group

Developmental editing

Also called substantive editing, this involves the extensive rewriting and restructuring of text, and requires much more time and discussion with the author.

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