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Line Editing versus Copy Editing

Although there is some overlap between line editing and copy editing, they are two distinct stages, one creative and the other technical. I will customize the editing plan to suit your needs and concerns.

Line Editing

Line editing focuses on creativity and readability at the sentence, paragraph, and scene levels, when you are happy with your story and structure but want to elevate your prose.

Individual needs vary, but I often encounter these issues:

  • overused words

  • awkward phrases

  • unnecessary words and phrases (and sometimes sentences, or even scenes)

  • tense shifts

  • inconsistent narrator/point of view (such as “head hopping”)

  • clunky sentence structure

  • weak transitions

  • passive verbs and sentences

  • bad dialogue tags (maybe overcompensating for weak dialogue)

  • plot inconsistencies 

The process of line editing naturally eliminates many grammar and punctuation errors; however, that is not the primary goal. While considering how the message is conveyed, a line editor will not obsess over every comma or hyphen the way a copy editor will. Authors often make changes after line editing as well, so copy editing is recommended for the final draft.

I line edit genre and literary fiction for middle-grade to adult novels.

Click to learn more about my fiction line editing process and to see a sample.

Copy Editing

Copy editing focuses on grammar and style, when you are happy with your final draft and ready to have a professional editor fix US English mechanical errors and style inconsistencies.

Every manuscript is unique, but some mistakes are common:

  • repeated words (such as “the the”) 

  • homophone errors (such as “peak,” “peek,” and “pique”)

  • missing or unnecessary commas

  • extra spaces

  • incorrect word usage (such as “that” versus “which”)

  • inconsistent spelling of words or names (such as “okay,” “ok,” and “OK”)

  • inconsistent style (especially numbers and the serial comma)

  • run-ons and fragments

  • overcapitalization

  • hyphenation errors

Copy editing is the last editing stage before a manuscript goes to layout and design. This means the author is happy with the content and will make no further changes unless the copy editor finds an issue that must be addressed, so the focus remains on technical details. However, a thorough copy editor may add an occasional creative note if an item stands out, such as an overused word or a confusing passage.


I copy edit fiction and nontechnical nonfiction manuscripts.

Click to learn more about my manuscript copy editing process and to see a sample.


Click to view a sample copy edit versus line edit.

Contact me to find out if we’re a good fit and to see how I can help you.





“An efficient, eagle-eyed, master editor who knows her craft. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with her again.”

—Jeff B., Memoirist

“She has edited a self help, business, and science fiction book for me and has done excellent on all three!”

—Jonathan D., Novelist and Nonfiction Author

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