logoheader center



The work of even the best writers, editors, and designers benefits from review by a different set of eyes. We in the field make distinctions between substantive editing and copyediting, but the truth is that, like so much in life, the reality is much “grayer” than the theory. Each kind of review looks primarily at its own set of concerns, but may well overlap, Venn-diagram-like, with the bailiwicks of other kinds of editing.

Copyediting: a thorough “review and repair” of text to ensure consistency of style and usage; correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation; sound word choice; accuracy of information; and freedom from typographical errors. In particular contexts (e.g., charts, illustrations, et al.), copyediting may border on typographic proofreading in its consideration of the treatment of text and visual elements for clarity, aesthetics, and consistency.

Substantive editing: intervention — with a light, moderate, or heavy hand — to remedy lack of clarity, inadequate organization, unnecessary language, and/or poor logical or narrative flow. Your written material will emerge as fresh, engaging, informative, and persuasive.

Wordslinger editing: Unless requested to do otherwise, I typically treat text with a “copyediting-plus” strategy that uses both sets of considerations.