I edit according to the Australian standards for editing practice which details three levels of editing:
1. structural editing
These are generally undertaken in three stages but sometimes there is overlap. It is important to establish the scope of the editing you require.
1. Structural editing
Also known as substantive editing
A structural edit involves evaluating the document overall:
Is it suitable for its purpose?
Does it have a cohesive structure?
Does it flow logically and smoothly?
Is it easy to understand?
Is the meaning clear?
Is it complete?
Suggestions and comments are made on your document. You are also provided with a report detailing the issues identified and how these can be overcome.
Detailed editing is not undertaken at this stage as substantial changes may still be made.
Also known as line editing
Copyediting is examining your document line by line for consistency, accuracy and completeness.Your work is checked for:
clarity of expression and logical flow of wording
appropriate and consistent writing style
accuracy of grammar, Australian spelling, terminology, and punctuation.
This phase of editing is the most detailed and time consuming.
Also known as the final edit
Proofreading is the final check of your document once you are happy with the content and layout. Your document is checked for typos and accuracy of grammar and punctuation. The format and layout are checked for consistency in design features such as heading hierarchy. Problems such as words or lines that have become separated and left dangling are corrected.
Proofreading is a quality control check before publication or submission. Suggestions about the style of writing and formatting will have already been made at the copyediting phase.
Reference: Australian standards for editing practice, second edition, Institute of Professional Editors Limited (2013).