What Is Structural Editing? Structural vs Developmental Editing Explained

When you’re crafting a piece of content, sometimes you need an extra set of eyes to help you not only hone the arguments but also organize it so that your ideas are communicated as effectively as possible.

That’s where structural editing can help you improve your writing.

Structural Editing

What is Structural Editing?

Structural editing and developmental editing are two different types of editing that focus on different aspects of the writing process. Structural editing is concerned with the overall structure and organization of a piece of writing, while developmental editing is focused on the development of the content and ideas within the writing.

Structural editing examines the organization of the piece, looking at the flow and logic of the arguments being made, and determining whether the structure is effective in supporting the main points.

Structural editors may suggest reorganizing the piece, adding or deleting sections, or restructuring paragraphs to improve the overall flow and coherence of the writing.

Structural Editing vs Developmental Editing

A common question we receive is “what’s the difference between structural and developmental editing?”

On a surface level the two can appear the same, but there are some key differences.

Where structural editing focuses on the structure and flow of content, developmental editing focuses on the content and ideas within the writing.

Developmental editors help writers to clarify their ideas, develop their arguments more fully, and ensure that their writing is engaging and well-written. They also may suggest adding or deleting content while also providing feedback on the overall development of the ideas within the writing. Structural editors do some of this as well, but moreso focus on the organization of the content.

Both structural editing and developmental editing are valuable parts of the editing process that improve the quality of a piece of writing, but they focus on different aspects of the writing process.

It’s not uncommon for writers to work with both types of editors to ensure that their writing is as strong and effective as possible, but there are also many editors who do both structural and developmental editing at the same time.

Where Structural Editing Fits In The Editing Process

Structural editing is one of the earliest phases of editing, often happening before or at the same time as developmental editing. Structural editing can help a writer work through their ideas when paired with developmental editing, or can help them understand how the piece can be improved by re-organizing content in a better way.

It is important to note that most writers or marketers do not think about “structural” vs “developmental” vs “copy editing” when writing or finalizing a piece. Editing most often happens in two phases:

  1. Once the first draft is done, the first phase of editing involves structural and developmental editing where the writer gets feedback and the piece is heavily edited. The writer then does a second draft to incorporate the feedback.
  2. Once feedback is incorporated and piece ready for finalization, they will send it to an editor for line editing (clarifying and synthesizing), copy editing, and proofreading to make sure it adheres to brand standards and is free of typos and errors.

Need Editing For Your Content?

Here at EditorNinja, our professionally trained editors specialize in making your content better so it drives more traffic and converts more of those visitors to customers.

If you’re producing content for marketing, you need EditorNinja on your side.

Schedule a free editorial assessment to learn more.