What is the Difference Between Line Editing and Substantive Editing?

What is the Difference Between Line Editing and Substantive Editing? Amplihigher Copywriting, Freelance Copywriters

What is the Difference Between Line Editing and Substantive Editing?

Written by Saleema Lookman | Edited by Malaika Randolph

What is the Difference Between Line Editing and Substantive Editing?

Though the editing process may appear straightforward, there are various phases involved in editing a document. Both substantive editing and line editing are critical components in this transformation. 

They are, however, remarkably different.

What is Substantive Editing?

The initial stage in the editing process is substantive editing.

Derived from the Latin word substantive meaning “of substance,” substantive editing involves assessing a draft’s substance. The writing is evaluated as a whole during this phase of editing. 

This stage is also frequently referred to as structural or developmental editing. The editor works closely with the writer during this phase to ensure that the piece has a structured storyline, is appropriate for the desired audience, and flows naturally.

Substantive editing is typically the lengthiest step in the editing process as manuscripts may require several reworks to achieve the desired message. 

Substantive editing determines if there are any of the following:

  • Structural fluctuations
  • Plot holes
  • Character discrepancies
  • Inconsistencies in tone
  • Inappropriate changes in tense
  • Dialogue discordance

What is Line Editing?

Only after a piece of work has undergone substantive editing can line editing commence. At this point in the editing process, the draft’s overall structure has been fine-tuned; therefore, the line editor can further dissect the work. 

Line editing entails analyzing each sentence of the document independently. The line editor evaluates every line for format, syntax, and diction. Modifying and resolving these inaccuracies is generally less time-consuming than substantive editing. It is important to note that line editors are not focused on grammar, spelling, or punctuation throughout this phase- these details are corrected in the final step of the editing process, proofreading.

Line editing will identify and correct any of the following:

  • Run-on sentences
  • Improper phrasing
  • Repetitions
  • Fluctuations in voice
  • Weak terminology
  • Sentence obscurity

What is the Difference Between Line Editing and Substantive Editing?

If you are an individual who benefits from analogies, I invite you to liken an editor to a dentist.

A dentist would first evaluate the mouth’s entirety through substantive editing, including occlusion, gum health, and overall dentition condition. Line editing would correlate with examining each tooth individually to identify any cavities or fractures. 

When examining anything, whether a mouth or draft of the writing, it is futile to correct small details if the overall integrity of a specimen is not intact. 

Both types of dental assessments are critical for good oral health, just as both editing phases are essential in achieving an exemplary writing piece.

 Get Started with Amplihigher

Enlisting a copywriting agency provides you with expertly written and edited content. Our team of freelance copywriters is well-versed in the various forms of editing, and work to carefully execute each phase. 

From analyzing the comprehensive document to evaluating line-by-line, our team applies our expertise to produce the highest quality content for your business. Contact Amplihigher today and let us know how we can help you achieve your business goals.