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No matter what kind of words you put to paper, one of the fundamental skills of being a good writer is learning how to edit your work. Once you have your writing skills perfected, it’s time to turn your attention to line editing to polish up your work and make it shine. 

In this post, we’ll show you what exactly a line edit is, when you need to do it, and how to get started line editing your own writing (or someone else’s) today.

What Is Line Editing?

The name says it all with this one. Line editing is when you go through a manuscript or piece of copy sentence by sentence (or, you know, line by line) to make sure that there’s consistency in the style and tone throughout the whole project. 

You may also see line edits referred to as the “stylistic edit” for this reason. The pace and flow of the work is what’s important to the line editor, along with ensuring that the words being used fit the tone and emotion that the writer is trying to use.

When a work is line edited, it’s slightly different from copy editing. Copy editing is more focused on the nitty gritty technical details, like spelling, punctuation, and grammar (all within the overall context of the writing). A copy editor can perform line edits, but that’s generally a separate stage of editing from the overall copy edit. 

Line editing is usually one of the first editing stages  when a writer hands over their completed manuscript, as this is often where a significant amount of changes are made. (Though it’s always done after the developmental or structural edit—which makes sure the overall plot and story works.) Once the line edit is completed, then the team can move onto the copy edit and final proofreading before publication.

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How to Line Edit

As style is the main focus of the line editor, there are a few different questions that should be asked regularly throughout the manuscript review.

  • What tone is the writer trying to use? Does everything being said reflect that tone, or could different words be used to better effect?
  • Do all of the sentences naturally flow together?
  • Is there a consistent angle or point of view throughout the whole narrative?

There may be times when a line editor finds typos or grammatical errors, and they’ll correct these as they spot them, but most of these edits or changes will be saved for the copy editor later on. Once the line editor has reviewed the entire manuscript, they’ll work with the writer to talk through any edits and address any issues or questions that the writer might have.

Line editing can be done in one round, but in most cases, there will be several stages of line edits as the editor and writer work together to make the writing the best that it can be. 

If you’re planning to line edit your own work, it’s best to step away from the project for a few days so that you can look at it again with fresh eyes as an editor, rather than as a writer. Reading your work out loud can be a helpful method of editing, particularly when you’re thinking about sentence flow. So, give this a go if you’re working by yourself.

Start Chopping Those Words!

Now that you have a better idea of what line editing is, it’s time to trim and polish your work. 

Whether you plan to hand off your content to an editor or go through this stage on your own, it’s important to take time to make sure your writing is conveying everything that you want it to and in a way that best suits your audience. Remember, the edit is just as crucial as the writing stage, so be thorough and enjoy the process!

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Writing and Editing: Polishing a Manuscript | Learn With Wattpad