Line Editing, Copy Editing & Proofreading: The Difference

At the Author's Hand, we're constantly being asked what the differences between line editing, copyediting and proofreading are. For instance, proofreading and copyediting have become synonymous within the industry, but there is a difference! 

We have compiled an in-depth description of each service we (and other professionals) provide to clear it up for you as you work towards publishing your novel.



A line edit does not comb through your manuscript and search for errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling.

Line editors will read your novel, front to back, and address:

The Writing Style – Is it consistent, engaging and strong?

Creative Content – Does it stand out as its own novel? Does it fit your genre? Does it have an audience?

Language Use – Are you repeating words? Is your language clear, concise and easy to read? Are you evoking emotion in your readers? Are you using clichés and making broad, sweeping strokes with your language rather than describing the scene vividly and painting a picture for your readers? Are you showing or are you just telling?

We will draw your attention to:

·       Changes that will allow you to pace your work properly at both a paragraph and chapter level.

·       Writing that is bland. Areas where you clearly just wanted to rush onto the next scene.

·       Dialogue, paragraphs and chapters that can be tightened up or expanded upon.

·       Action scenes that are confusing.

·       Redundant scenes that seem to drag on. You're going to have to get familiar and comfortable with the word “OMIT”.

·       Character dialogue that does not match up with their voice. Or characters that have NO voice.

A line edit should be completed before moving onto a copy edit. This part of the writing process is key to fixing structural issues with your work before moving into the more basic, but no less important, grammatical and spelling edits. No author should go without it.



A copy edit addresses mistakes in a manuscript at a fundamental and technical level.

We will:

·       Ensure the internal consistency of the manuscript.

·       Correct faulty grammar, spelling, punctuation and syntax.

·       Make certain your character traits, abilities and limitations are consistent.

·       Research and flag factually incorrect statements.

·       Ensure your spelling, punctuation, hyphenation and fonts are consistent.

Copyeditors are detail-oriented, micro-level manuscript detectives that will clean your work and prepare it for publishing or a publisher. This is not something that can be done by your friends or an inexperienced individual without a deep understanding of language, grammar, syntax and punctuation. Do yourself a huge favor and hire a copyeditor!


It is the final step, the true polish, before the novel is consumed by the public.


We proofread only after your manuscript has been printed and has seen an editor.

The final, edited copy is printed and then examined by a professional proofreader. We then check for quality and corrections before the book goes to mass production, reviewing the final edited version and comparing it to the print to ensure that there are no omissions or missing pages.

A good proofreader will not edit mistakes. Rather, if there egregious errors and many of them, a good proofreader will send the manuscript back to the editor for further work.

Proofreading is a requirement by traditional publishers before they print a mass quantity of books or put the novel online for order.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact the Author's Hand today. Advice is free!