Substantive Editing

What is substantive editing?

A paper may include all the right parts such as complete data, logical conclusions, and a detailed discussion on the topic. It may even include a unique angle or a profound discovery. But if the information is presented in an illogical order, makes the reader work too hard to connect key points, is lacking concrete examples, or doesn’t pull the reader in at the start, then all is lost.

This is where a substantive editor comes in. What is substantive editing exactly? To define substantive editing in simple terms, it is a comprehensive analysis of a work as a whole. Then, suggestions are made using substantive writing techniques to help ensure the paper and all the key points are made completely and in a logical order.

A substantive editing checklist includes:

Why would I need a substantive editing service?

If you feel the order and structure of your paper is sound, then you may not require a substantive edit. But if the topic is something you have not written about before, then perhaps use of substantive editing services is the best first step in ensuring your paper starts out in the right direction.

To define substantive editing needs another way, ask, “Is there is a better way to structure my paper?” If even a part of you thinks the answer is “yes”, then you are likely in need of a substantive editing service to some extent.

Before your paper is ready for proofreading or copy editing, the substantive editor can provide valuable insight to ensure every word, sentence, and example are relevant and useful. Do you have the basics but feel your paper needs development in areas you can’t quite pinpoint? Maybe it needs stronger transitions or an introduction that propels the reader to want more.

A substantive editor will look over your paper from a broad to narrow scope with fresh eyes. They will offer valuable substantive writing suggestions that will strengthen every part of your paper from start to finish. Even the smallest recommendation can bring a new perspective or shed light on what’s missing to make your paper or book stand out from the rest.

What a substantive edit does NOT include

A substantive edit is ideally completed at the start of the writing process. It doesn’t include line edits or detailed copy editing services. Having the basic order and structure in place—with all the necessary examples, conclusions, and discussion points in final form is the first step. Only then will the paper be ready for further services such as an English Language Check or Copy Editing Services.

Substantive editing rates

Depending on your requirement, substantive editing for an academic research paper or a book, the length and breadth of the edit will vary. For substantive editing rates on research papers, see our pricing. If you have written or are writing a book, please go through our book editing services in detail.