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Editor Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: September 27, 2023

An Editor, or Copy Editor, is responsible for reading manuscripts and other forms of written content to check for errors and areas to refine the piece. Their duties include maintaining close communication with Writers, referring to style guides and client directions to improve the content and making corrections to grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes throughout a piece of content.

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Editor Duties and Responsibilities

Editors have wide-ranging responsibilities, but their day-to-day duties vary depending on the specific role. In general, Editors will have knowledge of one or more style guides as well as the internal style guide that their employer uses. In fact, some Editors help companies develop the rules they follow for creating content. Other important duties and responsibilities for Editors include:

  • Coaching new writers and editors through the content creation process
  • Meeting with other team members, including writers, senior editors, project managers and marketing directors, to create content
  • Reviewing story or article ideas
  • Uploading content to a management system
  • Revising content
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Editor Job Description Examples

What Does an Editor Do?

Editors typically work for newspapers, magazines or publishing houses to ensure they produce quality, error-free content for their readers. They work closely with Writers, fact-checkers, publishers and other editors to prepare a piece written content for publication. Their job is to read through a manuscript or article multiple times to correct punctuation and grammar mistakes. They also make notes in the margins about confusing passages and advice for Writers during the revision period. They may also need to know how to use specific editing software programs to markup electronic manuscripts or documents.

Editor Skills and Qualifications

Editors have a mix of technical and creative skills—that is, they need an understanding of both the technical side of writing and the ability to edit while preserving the author’s unique voice (or ensuring that every piece of content is consistent with your business’s style). The skills and qualifications to look for in an Editor include:

  • Mastery of whatever style guide your company uses
  • Mastery of grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Experience working with other team members to produce content
  • Experience that’s relevant to the work you need created in terms of word count, tone and content (e.g., technical writing versus advertising copy)

Editor Salary Expectations

The average salary for Editors is $17.48 per hour. Editors who are just starting out or who will only be doing line edits—that is, individuals who are not part of the project management side of editing—will often earn less. More experienced editors can make more.

Editor Education and Training Requirements

As you start getting applications for your new job, you’ll notice that Editors come from lots of different backgrounds. Most have a bachelor’s degree in an area like English, but some companies hire Editors with a degree in a field like science or social studies. Some candidates will have master’s degrees. Applicants may also supplement their degrees with certificates from community colleges or universities.

Editor Experience Requirements

Many applicants find work as Editors right out of college. Others have years of experience and move on into mid- or senior-level roles. For entry-level roles, you’ll see one or two years of experience and/or experience gained through completing a bachelor’s degree. Other Editors will have five years of experience or more and are ready to move into roles focused more on project and team management.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

Editors are one of many positions that play a hand in developing content. You might be looking for a different set of skills than what’s listed here, or you might want to include other responsibilities for your job posting. If you’re not finding what you want with our editor sample, check out some templates for similar positions:

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Frequently asked questions about Editors

What is the difference between an Editor and a Proofreader?

The difference between an Editor and a Proofreader is that Editors focus on correcting grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes and fact-checking information in addition to improving the quality of a piece of writing. In contrast, Proofreaders focus specifically on identifying and correcting grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes and fact-checking information.

Further, Editors and Proofreaders also differ in their stage of involvement leading up to publication. Editors typically work with Writers early on in the process to provide initial edits to grammar, punctuation and facts. They also make suggestions about how to make the piece better. Throughout the writing and editing process, Editors work closely with Writers on a series of revisions to refine their piece. After final edits, a Proofreader does a series of read-throughs to catch additional grammatical errors and mistakes that Writers and Editors missed. They also verify names, dates and claims to ensure their correctness.

What are the daily duties of an Editor?

On a typical day, an Editor starts by checking their email and phone messages to answer questions from Writers and receive new manuscripts or other writing pieces. They typically participate in meetings with the editorial team to discuss new projects and upcoming publishing deadlines. If an Editor works remotely, they may participate in phone or video chat meetings. Throughout the day, they read through manuscripts, articles and blog content to correct mistakes and write suggestions for future revisions.

Once they complete their edits, Editors send marked-up content back to the Writer by email for them to review and make changes.

What qualities make a good Editor?

A good Editor is someone with keen attention to detail. This quality allows them to analyze passages to catch mistakes and make corrections. Editors need to have excellent time-management, which helps them devote specific time frames to manuscripts and meet their deadlines despite their workload. Further, a good Editor should be able to provide Writers with constructive criticism to make their writing better and improve the overall piece. a good Editor should also be able to adjust their communication to engage in conversation with Writers, Editors and other professionals.

Job Description Examples

Need help writing a job description for a specific role? Use these job description examples to create your next great job posting. Or if you’re ready to hire, post your job on Indeed.

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