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Editing Stages

What Levels or Stages are involved in Editing?

The following section describes what happens at different levels of editing.

Copy Editing
At all levels of copy editing the copy editor prepares a style sheet, corrects errors, marks up the manuscript, queries the author about conflicting statements, seeks advise when clarity is needed, and usually incorporates the author's replies to queries. This work is known as cleanup editing.

Baseline Editing
This is the minimum amount of copy editing given to a document. It is often called ‘light editing’, and involves the following:

  • Correcting faulty spelling, grammar, and punctuation;
  • Correcting incorrect usage (such as may for can);
  • Checking specific cross-references;
  • Ensuring consistency in spelling, hyphenation, numerals, fonts, and capitalisation;
  • Checking for proper sequencing (i.e. alphabetical order) in lists and other displayed material;
  • Recording the first references to figures, tables, and other display elements.

Medium Copy Editing
As well as performing all the elements required at the baseline or light editing stage, at this level of editing the editor does the following:

  • Changing text and headings to achieve parallel structure throughout the document;
  • Identifying inappropriate figures of speech;
  • Ensuring that key terms are handled consistently and that the index and any other lists included contain all the terms that meet criteria as specified;
  • Ensuring that previews, summaries, and end-of-chapter questions reflect content;
  • In fiction manuscripts, ensuring the continuity of plot, setting and character traits, and addressing discrepancies;
  • Changing passive voice to active voice, if necessary;
  • Identifying ambiguous or incorrect statements;
  • Type-marking the manuscript.

Substantive Editing (Heavy Copy Editing)
At this level of editing the editor looks at improving the flow of the text, may suggest re-writes and may also enforce uniformity in tone and focus as previously specified by the publisher. This may involve:

  • All tasks for medium copyediting
  • Eliminating wordiness, triteness, and inappropriate jargon
  • Smoothing transitions and moving sentences to improve readability
  • Assigning new levels to heads to achieve logical structure
  • Suggesting--and sometimes implementing--additions and deletions, noting  them at the sentence and paragraph level



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