Understanding the Differences Between Structural, Copy, and Line Editing



When it comes to editing a book, there are various stages and types of editing that authors should be familiar with. Among them, structural editing, copy editing, and line editing hold significant importance. Read on to explore the key differences between these three types of editing, shedding light on their unique roles in refining and perfecting your manuscript. 



  • Structural editing addresses the big-picture elements such as plot, structure, and character development. 
  • Copy editing focuses on grammar, punctuation, and consistency. 
  • Line editing works on the stylistic aspects, refining language flow, sentence structure, and word choice.



  • Structural editing assesses the entire manuscript and provides feedback on the overall content and structure. 
  • Copy editing and line editing concentrate on smaller units of text, such as sentences and paragraphs.



  • Structural editing aims to strengthen the story, characters, and overall coherence of the manuscript. 
  • Copy editing ensures correctness, consistency, and readability. 
  • Line editing enhances the writing style, language flow, and impact.



  • Structural editing is typically done in the early stages of manuscript development. 
  • Copy editing and line editing occur in later stages, closer to the final draft.



Understanding the differences between structural editing, copy editing, and line editing is crucial for authors seeking to refine their manuscripts. While structural editing focuses on the big picture and overall content, copy editing and line editing work on the technical and stylistic aspects of your writing. Each type of editing plays a vital role in enhancing the quality, readability, and impact of your book. By leveraging these different editing stages effectively, you can polish your manuscript to its full potential, captivating readers and achieving literary success.

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Written by Rheea Mukherjee

Rheea Rodrigues Mukherjee is the author of The Body Myth (Unnamed Press /Penguin India 2019) which was shortlisted for the Tata Literature Live First Book Award. Her work has been published and featured in Scroll.in, Southern Humanities Review, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Vogue India, Out of Print, TBLM, and Bengal Lights, among others. She co-founded Bangalore Writers Workshop in 2012 and currently co-runs Write Leela Write, a Design and Content Laboratory in Bangalore, India. Rheea has an MFA in creative writing from California College of the Arts.