Frequently Used Terms

Editing – improving the style, clarity or correctness of a piece of writing by making changes at one or more of four levels: whole book, paragraph, sentence or word.

  1. Development editing or big-picture/structural/substantive editing: at whole-book level, moving chunks of text around and perhaps deleting some sections. This type of editing focuses on the structure of the book, and whole-book features like plot, themes and characters.

    Type of error corrected: the book has a weak and implausible ending.

  2. Stylistic editing: at paragraph level, this involves rewording sentences to improve flow and clarity, while preserving the author’s voice.

    Type of error corrected: the vocabulary isn’t suited to the intended audience for the book.

  3. Copy-editing/line editing: at sentence level, correcting errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation and consistency, and improving flow and clarity. (Stylistic editing and copy-editing/line editing tend to overlap.)

    Type of error corrected: a character’s name is Ann in chapter two, and Anne in chapter five.

  4. Proofreading/Proofreader: the proofreader does a final check at word level after a book has been edited and printed, to pick up slips or typos the editor has missed.

    Type of error corrected: unnoticed repetition of a word, eg. He went for a walk in the the park.


Editorial report/critique – a written report evaluating the strengths and weakness of a manuscript, looking at big-picture features like plot, characters, audience, language and style.


Illustrated critique – a critique with general points about plot, style and the like which are illustrated or demonstrated by particular phrases or sections in the text.


Track changes/track-change comments – features of Microsoft Word which mark or track the changes made by an editor to a document, and enable the editor to write marginal comments to help the author.


Independent/indie writer – a writer aiming to publish their work independent of a commercial publisher, for example on the internet.


Manuscript/ms – a book in its original form, usually a Word document read onscreen or printed out from the computer.


Sub-editor – on a newspaper or magazine, a person who works under (sub) the editor, correcting mistakes in printed copy. Similar to a proofreader.


Ghost writer – a writer who tells someone else’s story: the ghost writer does the writing, and someone else is the named ‘author’.


SfEP – Society for Editors and Proofreaders, the premier UK association of professionals in this field.


Styling – Choices between variants made by the author or the editor, such as -ise or -ize endings, realise/realize, or “double” vs ‘single’ apostrophes. Style choices need to be applied consistently, not realise on p.1 and realize on p.10. There may be good reasons for some words to have ‘single’ apostrophes and others “double”.


Encourage – to encourage is to give support, confidence or hope to; to help the development of (OED). That’s what we do for our Betterwrite authors!


Blog – from weblog: articles and pictures posted on a website. Betterwrite authors are invited to tell their story and show off their book cover on our blog.