Line editing explained

Line editing a manuscript is the stage of editing focused on correcting or improving the tone, style and consistency of the manuscript.

What does the line editor do?

The line editor:

  1. identifies any structural issues which still need to be addressed; if necessary, the document may have to undergo more structural editing
  2. uses the chosen manual as a guide when editing the document; e.g. a standard manual used in Australia is the (Government) Style Manual
  3. utilises and adds to the style sheet (which was created during the structural editing stage) for the publication. The style sheet outlines the style rules not covered, or that contradict the chosen style guide. It includes rules about punctuation, spelling, acronyms, capitalisation of specific words, and instructions about fonts and headings. It is a working document to which the editor adds new items as they arise
  4. corrects the manuscript to eradicate errors and/or improve the manuscript
  5. corrects grammar; where appropriate, rewrites sentences or paragraphs, moves sentences or paragraphs to different positions and/or deletes text
  6. if it has been agreed that the line editor is also responsible for fact-checking, the line editor fact-checks the document to ensure all the information and attributions are correct
  7. corrects spelling and punctuation errors that they notice, although their main focus is on correcting and improving the manuscript as a whole, not correcting the minor errors (which is the copy editor’s role).

Depending on the standard of the manuscript and number of corrections needed, the manuscript may need more than one ‘pass’ to complete the line editing stage. That is, the line editor may need to go through the manuscript more than once to bring it to the stage where it is ready to be copy edited.

For information about the other stages of editing, go to:

For articles about different types of proofreading, go to: Editing and proofreading.

Image: Pixabay Creative Commons licence (no attribution required)

Proofread by Dee Sansom, On Time Typing


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