What does this term mean? That depends on whom you ask, but here’s how I define substantive line editing:
It’s line editing because I’ll go through the entire manuscript line by line, making changes and corrections.
It’s substantive because I’ll go beyond checking grammar and punctuation.
My goal will be to help you better communicate with your readers. I’ll work hard to polish your manuscript, but I won’t alter your ideas or your personal voice.
What I'll do
I’ll edit the manuscript electronically using Microsoft Word. I’ll turn on the Track Changes feature so that if you wish, you can easily identify all the changes I made.
As needed, I’ll make or suggest improvements in:
use of headings
I’ll work to eliminate weaknesses that often plague writing, such as:
overuse of passive voice
overreliance on phrases like “there were” and “it is”
I’ll also perform basic copyediting tasks (unless you prefer they be done as a separate step later on). These tasks include:
checking and fixing formatting
correcting errors in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation
applying style guidelines
ensuring consistency (for example, is it “10” or “ten”?)
While I’m editing, I may have questions or suggestions about a specific passage. If so, I’ll write you a note in the manuscript (using Microsoft Word’s comments feature, unless you request a different method). For instance, I might say “I’m not sure what this sentence means. Can you rephrase it more clearly?”
If I spot a more extensive issue that needs to be addressed right away, I’ll let you know by email. Then you can decide how we should handle it.
What you’ll receive
Edited manuscript, with tracked changes and comments
Separate document of editorial notes discussing specific issues (if needed)
Style sheet that shows choices made in spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization (useful as a reference during book production)