Types/Levels of Editing and Writing

Copy Editing

Copy editing focuses on correctness, consistency, accuracy, and completeness.It involves fixing grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, clarifying problematic sentences or points, employing discipline- or genre-specific conventions, and strengthening word choices. The level of copy editing a document requires can range from very light to very intensive. Unlike substantive editing, copy editing usually proceeds on a line-by-line basis.   (Many documents, including student papers, often require a mix of copy editing, substantive editing, and rewriting)

Substantive Editing

Substantive Editing focuses on the content, organization, and presentation of an entire text. It pays attention to sentence order, paragraph order, and the flow of the document as a whole; the pacing of the document; transitions and connections; reiterations of the thesis statement(s), key themes, and primary argument(s), and; gaps or a lack of clarity in the content.


Proofreading focuses on correcting minor spelling, formatting, and grammar areas. Proofreading has to be done on clean, edited copy and a document that needs copy editing and/or substantive editing, or rewriting, cannot be proofread.


Rewriting refers to rewriting text that can’t be efficiently corrected by copy editing for grammar and syntax. Usually this is because of extensive errors in the original copy or because content is very awkward or unclear.  I also often choose to rewrite text in order to make it read as good as possible.


Reconstruction is an aspect of substantive editing, but also applies to the flow and pacing of covers letter, personal statements, and funding/research applications. These are documents that need to pack a punch and I have to take care of details such as verb, sentence, and word variation as well as word choice and pacing in order to ensure optimum readability.

Original Writing

Original Writing focuses on adding or creating content, usually to websites or promotional materials.  I may add original content to business materials, cover letters and personal statements, but I do not write original content for student papers.

Content Writing

Content Editing provides specific feedback about content: where you need more, where you need less, where you lose the reader, and where you my switch the order of your manuscript or story.