There are many terms in writing and publishing that are unique to the industry, or that mean something different than what we are used to in everyday language, and sometimes even between authors or publishers. The following definitions are intended to help clear up any confusion. (Thank you to editor Kim Autrey for her contributions to this list.)


A barcode is a series of bars and spaces used to encode information into a visual pattern that machines (barcode scanners) can read to quickly identify a product. A barcode is necessary to sell physical copies of your book at retail locations, but may not be necessary for digital-only books.

Content Edit

Also known as a substantive edit, this is likely the heaviest stage of editing. It includes reviewing structure, style, grammar, spelling, and more. A substantive edit typically includes identifying/solving problems of clarity, reorganizing sections/chapters to improve the order of your manuscript, and rewriting segments of the text to improve readability. Structural edits ensure your arguments are clear, your plot is developed, and your information is presented logically and accurately.


The editing stage after content editing, this phase checks and corrects spelling, grammar, usage, syntax, and punctuation. It may also check cross-references and review all aspects of the manuscript at levels.

Developmental Edit

Also known as a structural or editorial edit, this is the earliest stage of editing. It deals with the overall content and organization, as well as genre considerations. It is intended to identify all of the “big picture” problems including: pacing concerns, plot holes, character or setting issues, thematic problems, and overall structure.

A developmental editor often provides a revision letter (also called an “editorial letter” or “edit letter”) outlining the big picture issues to address in revision. This stage may also include more detailed copy or line edits in your manuscript to show you how to revise effectively. An abbreviated version of this process is often called an “editorial assessment.”

Domain Name

This is the internet address for your website. For example, you are currently viewing content at the  domain name You can purchase a domain name from a variety of domain registrars. Make sure that you use an established a reputable registrar. Once you own your domain name, you will need to arrange for a “host” that will store your website data in a way that other people can find it.


Editing is the process of preparing material for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it. There are several different types of editing throughout the process. Common types of editing are: developmental, content, copy or line, and proofreading. There is often some overlap between some types of editing.


An ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique, numeric commercial book identifier that is assigned to each separate edition and variation of a publication.

For example, a single title would have four different ISBN numbers for the hardcover, paperback, digital, and audiobook format.


Proofreading is the final step in the editing process, and may involve several passes, including a review after a test printing of the book. It includes checking for clarity, reviewing basic grammar, reading for typographical errors, and looking for problems with typesetting specifications and page makeup.

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