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A professional editor corrects for levels of editing within any style guide, depending on individual need:
- Substantive – deals with the overall structure of the publication and considers a document’s concept and intended use, content, organization, design, and style. The purpose is to make the document functional for its readers and is almost entirely analysis-based, and decisions require judgement. It may involve restructuring or rewriting part or all of a document.
- Structural – looks at themes, characterization, point of view/voice, pace, dialogue, and flow (in fiction) and thesis, exposition, content, organization, tone, and pace (in nonfiction).
- Copy editing – is rules-based and concerned with grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style and the internal consistency of facts and presentation.
- Language – considers sentence complexity; use of active or passive verbs; concision; clear, logical development of idea; and use of jargon or technical terms appropriate for the intended audience.
- Proofreading – involves reviewing the final draft of a text to ensure that all information is accurate and all surface errors have been corrected.
- Fact checking – ensures all facts and quotes in the document are correct and complete.
- Reference checking – includes researching the source of the reference for correctness (while getting as close to the source of the reference as possible, ensuring all cited works in the document are referenced (including personal communications), and checking that all references appear in the document.
- Formatting – deals with physically structuring the document to fit within the prescribed style guide.
A professional writer can create any document within any style guide once given the desired purpose, audience, format, and content from subject matter experts. Documents can include anything from presentations and proposals to reports and newsletters and can take any form. A professional writer differs from a writer or even a technical writer in their expert knowledge of the ever-changing rules to the point where they can expertly break those rules to achieve the desired effect.