An Editor’s Role

When one thinks of an editor, the general public assumes that it is the man or woman who fixes a writer’s grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors before publishing the work for the masses. Due to many technological changes in the industry, the job title of editor has transformed into a more creative and business oriented position. Editors today can design pages, choose their writers, and even negotiate pay and responsibilities of the writers they hire.


Example of editing marks —Photo Courtesy of Google Images


There are several different types of editors. Page designers or page editors work with how the information and media is  presented. They deal with fonts, line length, sizes, colors, and many other kinds of type elements. The page editor is similar to the role that students in the Editing for Publishing class at Millersville University, where they will learn to deal with many of these elements. The most traditional type of editor is the copy editor. The copy editor works mainly with the grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors of a writer’s work. Copy editors also check for factual accuracy and clear meaning. According to, there are also acquisition editors, who are found in book publishing settings, are responsible for picking and choosing writers to fit their market. Acquisition editors also have a large network of contacts made up of already published authors, experts, and agents. Another common type of editor in today’s new world of publication is a editor in management. A management editor is responsible for the overall editorial standards and commercial success of their publishing organization. Often referred to as the ‘editor-in-chief’, most management editors will also write and develop stories themselves for publishing as well as select the stories and markets the organization will appeal to. These chiefs are also normally responsible for selling the rights to certain works to other organizations, to market in their own territory.


Red is a traditional color used in editing—-Photo Courtesy of Google Images

What exactly does an editor do? According to an excerpt of Tim Parks’ book, “In Praise of the Language Police”, an editor is someone who assist a writer in seeing where the his unconscious work may be taking away from his main idea. Parks seems to be saying that editors are really in place to tame a creative mind, and make sure that readers don’t become lost in translation. James Joyner, the blogger who posted the excerpt from Parks’ work, states that there are three types of editors; the editors who wish they were writers, the editors who don’t edit, and the editors who make writers better. In Joyner’s post, he mentions that the editor who makes writers better has three primary roles to their writer. The first is to help them get their point across as well as getting their point seen. The writer must be succinct and the flow must be logical, advancing the piece smoothly. A writer must also have an intelligent voice and appeal to a reader who isn’t necessarily an expert. Keeping both these roles in mind, an editor must also help the writer avoid looking like “an idiot”. This is means catching the obvious spelling and grammatical errors and flagging down un-factual information.

According to, the new opportunities for writers and editors alike in the media world has made many of the job descriptions outdated. With the progression of technology and new media outlets like the Internet and social media, many writers and editors have had to work to adapt to their surroundings. Page editors is a very good example of how the position has progressed. While editors are still responsible for their stereotypical skills, many have developed into consistent, accurate, authorities in an ever changing electronic media field.


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