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So you’ve just finished writing your latest news article or short story. Congratulations! You may think that the next step is to get it published, but there’s actually a stage between writing and publication that is vital to any piece of work—and that stage is editing.

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What Is Editing?

Editing is the process by which a person improves a piece of writing and makes it adhere to a specific style guide to get it ready for publication. Style guides include The Chicago Manual of Style (used primarily for literary print publications) and The AP Stylebook (used primarily for newspaper and journalistic publications).

There are several different types of editing—from developmental editing to proofreading—and they are often thought of as stages in the editorial process; a piece of writing begins in the more extensive editing phases and progresses to lighter and lighter edits. The kind of editing that is required for any specific piece of writing depends both on how far along the piece is in the writing process (polished pieces may need only a quick line edit) and what the preferences and prestige of the publishing house are—smaller houses may only budget for lighter edits, while serious publishing companies may require more extensive edits before publication.

5 Different Types of Editors

Just as there are many types of editing, there are many different types of editors, and each editor has a different role in the publication process.

  1. Editor in chief. The editor in chief is the head of a publication. They usually don’t do a lot of official editing work and are more preoccupied with running the publication, managing things like budget, advertising, and overall scope of the publication.
  2. Managing editor. The managing editor oversees a team of editors and makes sure that edits are made appropriately and consistently. The managing editor may also conduct trainings, hire new editors, and oversee acquisitions for the publication.
  3. In-house editor. An in-house editor is an editor who works for one publication only. They do the editing work—making sure writing is clear and well-organized, ensuring writing conforms to a specific style guide and conducting fact-checking.
  4. Freelance editor. A freelance editor is someone who doesn’t work for a specific publication but is hired on an hourly basis to do editing work. Overall, freelancers’ work is much the same as an in-house editor’s.
  5. Copy editor. A copy editor’s role is varied, depending on the publication or job. They can be either freelance or in-house. Often a copy editor is tasked with checking for grammatical errors, inconsistencies, and fact-checking a piece. They are usually more detail-oriented than other types of editors, focusing on the mechanics of the piece rather than the overall content and tone.

What Is a Developmental Edit?

A developmental editor looks at the big-picture issues in a manuscript. This involves doing a read-through of the entire piece to offer writing tips based on what the article, short story, essay, or book needs as a whole. They do a thorough manuscript evaluation to make sure your story has strong strong motivations for your characters, believable plot points, powerful tension, and interesting themes. A manuscript critique from a developmental editor might point out that a character is boring, that the plot has holes, that there isn’t enough tension or the plot is too cliché to make the story interesting. If you’ve just finished your first draft and are looking for an editor for the first time to critique your story, a developmental editor might be the beta reader you’re looking for.

Learn more about developmental editing in our guide here.