There are many levels to editing, depending on the quality of the writing, the intended audience, and much more. Different companies may break this down differently, but we see editing as a continuum with three general types of activities: Proofreading, copyediting, and developmental/continuity editing.

Proofreading

The simplest level of editing, proofreading is appropriate for documents that have already gone through several drafts, have undergone at least one round of editing, and is considered at the final stage prior to going to layout. This includes a check of basic grammar, tense, spelling, and punctuation. Usually a document at this stage will have very little left to change.

Copyediting

Appropriate for documents in an earlier stage of editing or which needs more than a proofread. In addition to those things included in Proofreading, described above, this includes editing for word choice and sentence structure. This also includes checking figure or other numbering.

Developmental/continuity/structural

The most complex level of editing and is appropriate for documents in an earlier stage of editing. This level of editing is best for those authors for whom English is a second language, writing is not a top skill, or who otherwise just need help. In addition to those things included in Proofreading and Copyediting above, this includes editing for continuity and document structure, and may include some rewriting and content development.

Style Guide

A key to consistent writing across your documents is the use of a style guide. Unless you have a style guide that you prefer we use, we defer to the Chicago Manual of Style for our editorial work. This includes but is not limited to what is shown in the list below:

  • Use the Oxford (serial) comma.
  • Only one space after a sentence.
  • All punctuation (other than colon) should be inside quotation marks.
  • Minimize gratuitous use of capitalization and quotation marks.
  • For global audiences, favor US spelling and punctuation.
  • Sentence-punctuate and case bullets.
  • Trademarks in professional publications are noted on first use and in the document’s trademark statement. Trademarks in books are noted in the front matter.

Download our style guide and refer to our list of TechDoc Tips, which you are welcome to edit and use as you wish. If you want any of these matters to be handled differently, just let us know before we start the editing work.