When I get a request to “edit” a story, the first thing I do is clarify just what type of editing a client is looking to have performed because the range of possibilities is actually quite broad. To make things even more interesting, there’s not a true 100% standardization on the names or even tasks of particular types of editing within the publishing industry. The definitions and tasks can vary across different publishing houses, different publishing niches and even with different freelance editors.

It’s all a bit of a mess and it can be confusing for authors who are either looking for editing services or trying to figure out what the status they’ve just been sent by their editor means.

Instead of attempting some sort of World Dominance of Editing Terminology, I’ve listed below the three major editing types with a few of their alternate names and the most common tasks associated with those types of editing. This is the list I work off of and will give you a decent, if imperfect, idea of what you’re looking at when you are contracting for editing services or getting a status on editing in progress.

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