Manuscript editing refers to revising the manuscript content to improve clarity, readability, and overall flow. The focus is also on correcting grammar, spelling, and punctuation. A professional manuscript editor often offers suggestions for the writer.
Substantive, or content, editing of a manuscript is the most intensive form of editing. In this stage of editing, the manuscript editor examines the structure, organization, style, and presentation of the manuscript. Sections of the manuscript may be moved, text may be cut from one part and added to another part, and sections of the manuscript may be rewritten to enhance the content.
When editing a manuscript, the copy-editing stage focuses on the language used, including spelling, grammar, punctuation, and syntax. The editor also considers word usage, repetition, and inconsistencies in the manuscript. A writer should always let his or her professional manuscript editor know what style guide the manuscript should follow before submitting it for editing. Other information that should be provided up-front is whether the document needs to follow US or UK English, for example, or any other particular requirements, such as whether the manuscript should have an informal, formal, academic, or business tone.
Most editors will edit any references or bibliography included in the manuscript (if those references are included in the word count), but you should confirm this with your manuscript editor prior to submission. References and bibliographies can be hard to organize and format correctly, so it is helpful to have someone review this section of your manuscript. The writer should also provide his or her manuscript editor with information on how the references should be formatted, such as whether the document should follow APA Style, MLA Style, or another style guide.
Many manuscript editors like to communicate with the client during the editing process. This includes emailing queries to the client or adding comments to the manuscript. This communication gives the client input into the process of manuscript editing. A manuscript editor you choose should always be available for questions during and after the editing process.
Proofreading is another important stage of the manuscript writing process, and involves ensuring that all mistakes, typos, and other minor issues have been corrected. Most publishing houses have all manuscripts proofread after being edited by their staff because, as stated above, it helps to have a second pair of eyes go over your document. A manuscript must go through several stages of editing as well as proofreading in order to be as error-free as possible.
When editing a manuscript, it is helpful when the professional editor uses the Track Changes tool. The Track Changes tool is available in word processing programs like Word and Google Docs and shows the writer what revisions were made by the manuscript editor, and the writer can then accept or decline each of those revisions individually, or accept or decline all revisions at once. It is important for writers to understand how to use Track Changes. Even the most established authors have their work edited and proofread.