Types of Editing

Substantive (developmental) editing  

The most intensive form of editing is substantive editing. The document is evaluated as a whole and problems of structure, organization, coherence, and logical consistency are corrected. Sentences may be removed or added. Paragraphs may be rewritten, condensed, or expanded. Blocks of text may be moved from one section to another. Substantive editing includes one revision at no additional charge. Turnaround time must be negotiated.

Copy editing

The editor corrects problems of grammar, style, repetition, word usage, and jargon. Copy editing includes one revision at no additional charge. Turnaround time for copy editing typically is three business days.


Proofreading is the lightest form of editing. Minor errors are corrected. Minor errors include:

  • errors of grammar and style (e.g., verb tense, units such as ml, use of numerals and words such as “5” or “five”)
  • errors of capitalization, punctuation (e.g., the use of commas, semicolons, colons, periods, dashes, apostrophes)
  • errors of spelling and word usage (e.g., to/too, affect/effect)
Turnaround time for proofreading typically is two business days.


The editor will amend document text to ensure that it complies with the required format, such as the format required by a specific journal. Turnaround time can be negotiated.

References/Literature Cited

Literature citations are checked to ensure that each citation that appears in the text is also included in the list of citations. Citations are also checked to ensure that each citation that appears in the list of citations also appears in the text. The format of the citations are corrected so that it conforms with requirements, such as the style preferred by a specific journal.

Other documents

Other documents also may be edited. For example, the editor may rework tables, figures, and figure legends to represent the data more clearly.


The editor may provide a one to two page diagnosis of the manuscript that highlights the areas where changes might be most beneficial. Criticisms that are likely to arise during peer review, such as repetitive, ambiguous, or incomplete information, will be noted. A review includes proofreading at no charge. Turnaround time must be negotiated. 


Terms used to describe scientific editing and writing are defined in the glossary.           

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