12 Types of Editors and Editing

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Before publishing their works, writers hire book editors who will assist in perfecting their writing. Just as there are many types of writers, there are different types of editors in a hierarchy with specialized jobs.

Over the years, I’ve learned to wear several editing hats, but I still hire specific editors and proofreaders for certain jobs. This helps ensure that it’s not just my eyes on my work.

Find out the 12 types of editors you need and their roles. I’ll also explain the four editing stages that your writing piece should undergo.

How Many Different Types of Editors are There?

With the complex division of labor inside publishing firms, it’s hard to tell how many types of editors there are. They range from technical editors to proofreaders and copy editors responsible for different editing projects.

Editors also form a hierarchical structure in companies, where the managing editors, chief editor, and editor-in-chief make the final decisions. 

On a basic level, there are four main types of editors: developmental, copy editors, proofreaders, and line editors.

12 Types of Editors: What They Do?

Book editors are like the military. They have a hierarchal structure divided into different tasks to make the publication process easier. Here are the 12 popular editor types and their roles.

1. Beta Reader

The beta reader isn’t always part of the team of editors in publishing companies. Personally, I think they should be. They are individuals who read your book to give their opinions. Beta readers don’t need to be experts in their field or professional editors. 

I use beta readers after I’ve self-edited my work, but before it goes to my main editors. My beta does this for free or a minimal fee in exchange for reading my books early and getting free copies.

Try creating a questionnaire for beta readers to answer once they finish your story. They might not give you expert advice, but they will provide you with feedback from the general public’s point of view.

2. Proofreader

The proofreader is a vital member of the publishing industry. They examine the finished manuscript to give a final readthrough before publishing. 

Glaring mistakes in grammar, punctuation, formatting, and quality are their specialty. Proofreaders have an eye for layout issues like extra spaces, misnumbered pages, and missing bylines.

The proofreading process also includes one readthrough of the entire manuscript before submitting it to the publishing house. I use a proofreader after my betas and before my editor gets it.

3. Online Editor

With the rise of online publications, online editors have become more in demand to provide editorial guidance for blog posts and other content. It’s easy to hire one on the internet if you have no idea who to ask for help.

Get to know all vital details about the online editor before making a deal with them. Ask them about their specific skill sets and rates to know if their specialization fits your writing needs. 

4. Critique Partner

This is a fellow writer or published author who might personally help you with your book proposal and other works. They look over your story and give suggestions on how to improve their quality.

Critique partners are more like writing coaches than editors. They might ask you to fix run-on sentences and other structural issues. But they will mostly give feedback on your characters, storyline, and cliche. 

5. Commissioning Editor

The commissioning editor is part of the editorial team who looks for articles and books to publish. Sometimes called the acquisition editor or acquisitions editor, this person is who you should talk to when you want to get your book published.

Freelance writers also turn to the commissioning editor when they want to pitch their blog to a specific company. Rather than grammar and formatting, trends and public interest are necessary factors for the commissioning editor. 

6. Developmental Editor

A developmental editor provides editorial feedback based on your fiction piece’s overall plot, characters, and clarity. They also help keep every scene of your narrative exciting and consistent. 

Once they’ve finished editing, they will send your annotated manuscript back with suggestions for each issue. They will also give you an editorial report or a summary of their feedback.

7. Line Editor

A line editor or copyeditor looks at the grammar, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. This type of editing requires knowledge of the English language’s rules. It also sometimes includes fact-checking, editing, and revising the writing style.

8. Editor in Chief

The editor-in-chief is someone who supervises everything in the editing department of your publication. They delegate tasks, oversee big projects, and maintain the company’s philosophy.

The chief editor is different from the editor-in-chief since the former is in charge of a story or content. The chief editor looks at the final product to see if the writing meets the company’s standards.

Do not get confused between the editor in chief vs. managing editor too. An editor in chief is the top editor, while the managing editor simply manages the publication’s operations.

9. Managing Editor

Managing editors are not always professional content editors. Sometimes, they simply look over the daily operations of a publishing house and report to the editor in chief. They also hire and manage assistant editors.

They only perform lighter edits because they would instead suggest ideas, provide solutions to problems, and answer questions from the staff. Their writing life is also fun because they get to write a column or editorial. 

10. Contributing Editor

The contributing editor or roving editor is an editor who renders service to a newspaper or magazine. Another title for them is the editor at large. They are free to choose what they can edit and work on regularly. 

11. Substantive Editor

The substantive editor is also known as a content or line editor, who edits for style and clarity. These editors rephrase sentences up to the paragraph level. They also analyze your book on a by-chapter level.

12. Associate Editor

The associate editor is typically a part of magazine and newspaper firms. Often called “section editors,” these individuals look for content they can publish. They read your material before publishing and sometimes coordinate exciting topics.

Associate editors also ensure the title and content are engaging. Maintaining the overall aim of your publication is their role. 

What are the Different Types of Editing in Research?

There are numerous types of editing that are usually parts of the whole editorial process in a piece of writing. Here are some of them.

Editorial Assessment

The editorial assessment is the first stage of editing, which offers general feedback on your work. Editors don’t give you rewrites and comments. Instead, you’ll get a letter that concentrates on the broad strokes. 

This pre-editing job will make the developmental and copyeditor’s tasks much easier later. It also identifies whether your book is already fine before contacting agents.

Developmental Editing

A developmental editor does developmental editing, also known as manuscript appraisal. It’s a type of content editing that occurs early in the writing process. The developmental edit focuses on structure and organization over grammar, diction, and punctuation.

A developmental edit guarantees that your stances are free from fallacies and inconsistency. The stories should have a proper flow as all elements are in place. The character should be interesting as they possess character development. 

Developmental editors see to it that the plot points are believable. The theme of your story is also part of the developmental editor’s job. Does it have a consistent thought? Is there enough tension? Is the storyline too cliche? 

You can seek help from developmental editors even before writing the entire book. They will help struggling writers with plot holes, motivations, and scenes.

Some developmental editors also offer structural editing services. This editing is concerned with the story’s structure, such as giving backstories or using a linear approach.

Content Editing

A content editor is a type of editing that analyzes the structure of your book while reading the manuscript edits. Also known as substantive editing, content editing concentrates on the completeness and construction of ideas in every paragraph.

A content edit is responsible for the voice and tone of the manuscript instead of the writing style or big-picture issues. It must be sensitive to the target audience as the language gets refined.


Proofreading is a type of research editing that examines your documents’ grammatical errors. They are the last type of editing your document undergoes before publication.  

The proofreader uses a printed version of your piece with all the necessary designs and formats, hence “proof.” It gives the whole document a final review of different issues before the actual printing.

So, the process goes: copy edit your manuscript, finalize the layout, then proofread before going to the publishing houses. The proofreader is a professional editor that offers feedback on design, page numbering, headings, and typos. 

Copy Editing

Copy editing is an editing process that happens once you’ve finished the manuscript. But what makes it different from proofreading?

The copyeditor or copy editor is a type of editor that meticulously detects spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes in your writing. They don’t look at the headings, page numbers, and formatting like the proofreader. They also don’t need the actual printed version of the text.

Copyeditors don’t just look for poor wording and apparent errors. These professionals search for small grammar mistakes that even English speakers don’t know. 

A freelance editor usually performs copy editing for multiple clients. They read the entire project and fix the sentence structure, diction, and grammar issues. Other elements they evaluate include dialogue stages, use of numbers, character descriptions, and capitalization. 

Line Editing

Line editing, also known as stylistic editing, is a type of editing that focuses on your flow’s content and how it flows. Line editors focus on the tenses of your verb, choice of words, and structure of sentences rather than a manuscript critique.

All editing is done from a style perspective rather than a mechanical perspective. Therefore, if your content isn’t as smooth as you think, you need a line editor. 

Four Types of Copy Editing

Copy editing is about deconstructing your whole manuscript at the sentence level to check for typographical errors, inconsistencies, and confusing sentences. Here are the four main types.


Some believe that copy editing and proofreading are synonymous with each other. Because of the overlapping roles, proofreading may also be a type of copy editing. 

It’s a professional edit that checks the grammatical accuracy, punctuation, spelling, and other mechanical aspects.  


Fact-checking is technical editing that makes sure all facts are accurate and appropriate. They guarantee that the writers’ statements represent the requirements of the publisher’s style. 


Rewriting comes after line editing, and it can involve reconstructing your whole written piece or a part of it. If you’re unsure how to rewrite, have a fresh pair of eyes review your work and provide the necessary approach.

SEO Copy Editing

SEO copy editing is a new type of copy editing that isn’t always present in traditional publishing houses. Here, a professional copyeditor identifies the essential keywords for your writing to reach a wider audience.

Other roles include ensuring the content uses the correct tags and improving the site architecture. These types of editing jobs are common among companies that write for the web.

Qualities of a Good Editor

The tasks of editors are not limited to ensuring an error-free text for the writer. They also need to enhance the quality of the finished manuscript. Here are 12 qualities to look for in a good editor.

  1. Detail-oriented.
  2. Communication skills. 
  3. Timeliness.
  4. Provides constructive guidance. 
  5. Has a solid understanding of the book publishing industry.
  6. Prudence.
  7. Knowledge of grammar and style.
  8. Exceptional writing skills.
  9. Honest and respectful of the writer’s passion.
  10. Spots character inconsistencies. 
  11. Offers technical details and creative feedback.
  12. Doesn’t inhibit the writer’s personal style.

What are the Four Stages of Editing?

There are several stages of editing depending on the publishing company. But the most common process involves four phases:

  • Structural editing or developmental editing.
  • Copy editing or line editing.
  • Proofreading.
  • Page proofs.

You can also conduct an editorial assessment before the first step. Some writers seek advice from the general public through surveys too. 

Do Editors Make Good Money?

Many people romanticize a desk job filled with manuscripts and pre-launched books. Being an editor sounds like a dream job, but their salary varies according to their position and company. 

Freelancers and part-time editors make around $500 a month as a minimum, equivalent to $6000 a year. In-house editors in traditional publishing houses typically earn $55,491 a year. 

What many editors love about their job is that different industries need them. Editors are present in the business, technology, education, and science industries. 

Editors also make more money than writers as they tend to be more experienced and knowledgeable. These professionals possess a mixture of technical know-how and superb writing skills.  

What Type of Editing Do You Need?

Online proofreading programs are no substitute for the hierarchy of human editors you need. They will perform their individual tasks to fine-tune your writing based on grammar, sentence structure, storyline, and formatting. 

Aside from magazine and book editors, what other types of editors exist? Share your insights in the comments below.