The Dry Stuff

Proofreading: The reading of a galley proof or computer monitor to detect and correct production errors of text or art.

Proofreading is sometimes mistaken for copy editing, but technically speaking, it’s a separate process. Proofreading follows editing and layout, when the designer has prepared page proofs. It doesn’t involve finding copy editing errors but is concerned with other elements: accuracy and consistency of design, including headers, level heads, page numbering, word breaks, end-of-line breaks, page breaks, cross references, and appropriate placement of tables and artwork.

Editing: The editing process often begins with the author's idea for the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created.

As such, editing is a practice that includes creative skills, human relations, and a precise set of methods. [Encarta Dictionary definition of "editing". Archived from the original on 31 October 2009.] Editing addresses development of content, structure, style, and grammar, including spelling, and punctuation. Editing can be light or heavy or in between—copy editing, stylistic (line) editing, structural editing, or substantive editing.
Structural (Substantive) Editing: The most complex and time-consuming type of editing.

Focuses on logical organization and flow of content ensuring the document is clear, concise, and easy to read at the sentence, paragraph, and chapter levels and usually the first type of editing a manuscript goes through.

Stylistic (Line) Editing: A stage in the editing process in which a manuscript is edited for tone, style, and consistency.

This stage of editing is extremely important for documents of all types and lengths. A good line editor is a crucial individual in news rooms, publishing houses, and other organizations which produce printed material. Line editors can also be found working as freelancers, taking in work on a case by case basis.

A line editor literally goes through a written piece line by line, taking the time to be extremely thorough and meticulous. Line editors may read a piece several times to ensure that it has been thoroughly edited, often starting with a rough pass to look for basic issues like spelling and grammar problems and then digging in deeper with each successive pass.

Copy Editing: The work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text.

This is the level of editing most commonly called for, where changes are made as necessary to standardize grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style. Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the substance of the text. Copy editing is done before both typesetting and proofreading.