What Are The Different Types Of Academic Editing?

Learn about the various services offered by academic editors working with scholars on their articles, books, and dissertations.

The academic writing process often involves collaboration with skilled editors who can help you refine and elevate your journal articles, book manuscripts, dissertations and theses, and other writing projects. At Flatpage, we understand that the array of editorial services available might seem overwhelming to scholarly authors—particularly those who are new to publishing. To demystify this process, we have outlined the different types of academic editing in this blog post. 

Drawing insights from our book, The Art of Academic Editing: A Guide for Authors and Editors, we aim to help authors grasp the nuances of these services and know when to engage an editor for optimal support.

1. Book Coaching

Academic book coaching is a newer and relatively less familiar type of editing. It’s a valuable resource for those seeking ongoing support at various manuscript development stages. 

Tailored to individual writers and projects, coaching goes beyond traditional editing, offering assistance with strategizing a journal article or book manuscript, framing a topic, crafting engaging chapters, setting writing goals, navigating peer review, and providing moral support throughout the writing process. Book coaching can even complement other editing types like developmental or line editing, which might be performed by the coach in addition to one-on-one coaching sessions.

2. Developmental Editing

Developmental editing is the first type of manuscript editing—meaning that a manuscript is needed in order to perform this service. This type of editing focuses on the big picture by addressing the foundational aspects of a journal article, book proposal, or full book manuscript. In other words, these editors help you tell a compelling story through your research or data. 

Before submitting to journals or publishers, engage a developmental editor to refine the argument’s form, overall organization, evidence usage, and writing style. This crucial step ensures your manuscript is well-structured, engaging, and ready for peer review.

3. Line Editing

When you need help to improve your writing style, you might choose to work with a line editor to enhance sentence structure, paragraph organization, and overall tone. Ideal collaborators for authors honing their craft, those with multilingual backgrounds, or writers who want to make drastic cuts to their word count, line editors scrutinize text at the sentence level to ensure that a text is tight and clear and that your writing style engages your ideal audience. 

This type of editing is particularly helpful before seeking publishers, as it requires heavy edits, revisions, and rewrites to ensure that your content is polished and ready for submission.

4. Copyediting

The cornerstone of manuscript editing, copyediting addresses grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and adherence to style guides such as APA or the Chicago Manual of Style (and/or your publisher’s style guide). Services include fixing grammar and punctuation errors, improving sentence flow, formatting citations, and ensuring overall consistency at the word and manuscript level. Copyeditors also provide light fact-checking to ensure proper spelling of names, places, and basic data.

Copyediting is often the final cleanup stage before submission or production, although it can happen at various stages in the drafting process. 

5. Proofreading

As the final step in the editorial process, proofreading occurs after drafting, review, and copyediting. The manuscript has likely also gone to a designer, who’s laid it out on a web page or an InDesign file. Proofreading ensures consistency in various manuscript elements, such as the table of contents and chapter headings, and is the last point when authors and editors can root out errors in spelling, punctuation, layout, and typesetting. This meticulous review ensures a polished and error-free final product.

Proofreading is often confused with copyediting, even among editors who often use these terms interchangeably. However, true proofreading should never involve major corrections to grammar or sentence structure; the amount of changes during this phase should be kept to a minimum.

6. Indexing

While not strictly an editorial service, indexing is often performed by editors in the final stages of the publication process. Often occurring simultaneously to proofreading, indexing typically takes place on a publisher’s page proofs or the final Word document that’s already gone through review and copyediting. Indexers create a guide to the book’s contents, facilitating readers in finding information quickly. This involves a comprehensive final read, during which the indexer creates an alphabetical list of names, places, events, and subjects, and compiles a list of errata found during the indexing process.


While this overview covers key academic editing services, additional specialized services exist, such as permissions research and sensitivity reading. By understanding these fundamental services, authors can navigate the editing process with clarity, ensuring their work receives the attention and refinement it deserves.

Ready to take the next step?

Get a rate quote or schedule a consultation call by clicking below.

Get in touch