"Quarters of the news editor", one a group of four photos in the brochure Seattle and the Orient (1900) collectively captioned "The Seattle Daily Times—Editorial Department"

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing written, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information through the processes of correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work.[1]

The editing process often begins with the author's idea for the work itself, continuing as a collaboration between the author and the editor as the work is created. As such, editing is a practice that includes creative skills, human relations, and a precise set of methods.[2][3]


Print media

There are various editorial positions in publishing. Typically, one finds editorial assistants reporting to the senior-level editorial staff and directors who report to senior executive editors. Senior executive editors are responsible for developing a product to its final release. The smaller the publication, the more these roles overlap.

The title of the top editor at many publications may be "Editor in Chief", "Executive Editor", or simply "Editor". A frequent and esteemed contributor to a magazine may acquire a title of Editor At-Large or Contributing Editor. Mid-level newspaper editors often manage or help manage sections, such as business, sports and features. In U.S. newspapers, the level below the top editor is usually the managing editor.

In the book publishing industry, editors may organize anthologies and other compilations, produce definitive editions of a classic author's works ("Scholarly Editor"), and organize and manage contributions to a multiauthor book (symposium editor or volume editor). Obtaining manuscripts or recruiting authors is the role of an Acquisitions Editor or a commissioning editor for a publishing house.[4] Finding marketable ideas and presenting them to appropriate authors are the responsibility of a sponsoring editor.

Copy editors correct spelling, grammar, and align writings to house style. Changes to the publishing industry since the 1980s have resulted in nearly all copy editing of book manuscripts being outsourced to freelance copy editors.[4]

At newspapers and wire services, copy editors write headlines and work on more substantive issues, such as ensuring accuracy, fairness, and taste. In some positions, they design pages and select news stories for inclusion. At U.K. and Australian newspapers, the term is "Sub-Editor". They may choose the layout of the publication and communicate with the printer—a production editor. This type of work earns one a title of "Layout Editor", "Design Editor", "News Designer", or—more so in the past—"Makeup Editor".

Light edits and heavy edits

A "light edit", otherwise known as a "minor change", may be regarded as a change that does not substantively change the theme, typeface, tone, structure, characters, or other elements of intellectual property that are held by the author. Such changes would include changes to spelling or grammar that don't deviate from the author's use of, for example, non-standard grammar or speech patterns.

A "heavy edit" may substantively change the tone, structure, characters, or other elements of intellectual property contained in the work.

Improving an author's writing so that they say what they mean to say in an effective manner is also called "substantive" or "developmental" editing. Depending on the writer's abilities, this editing can sometimes turn into ghost writing. Many types of editors do substantive editing.

Executive editor

The top editor sometimes has the title executive editor or editor-in-chief. This person is generally responsible for the content of the publication. An exception is large newspapers, who usually have a separate editor for the editorials and opinion pages to separate news reporting and editorial content.

The executive editor sets the publication standards for performance, and motivates and develops the staff. The executive editor is also responsible for developing and maintaining the publication budget. In concert with the publisher and the operating committee, the Executive Editor is responsible for strategic and operational planning. The Executive Editor is effectively the head of the newspaper and has considerable influence on its content.


Editors at newspapers supervise journalists and improve their work. Newspaper editing encompasses a variety of titles and functions. These include:

  • Copy editors
  • Department editors
  • Managing editors and assistant or deputy managing editors (the managing editor is often second in line after the top editor)
  • News editors, who oversee the news desks
  • Photo or picture editors
  • Section editors and their assistants, such as for business, features, and sports
  • Editorial Page Editor who oversees the coverage on the editorial page. This includes chairing the Editorial Board and assigning editorial writing responsibilities. The editorial page editor may also oversee the op-ed page or those duties are assigned to a separate op-ed editor.
  • Top editors, who may be called editor in chief, executive editor, or sometimes just editor
  • Readers' editors, sometimes known as the ombudsman, who arbitrate complaints
  • Wire editors, who choose and edit articles from various international wire services, and are usually part of the copy desk
  • Administrative editors (who actually don't edit but perform duties such as recruiting and directing training)

The term city editor is used differently in North America and South America, where it refers to the editor responsible for the news coverage of a newspaper's local circulation area (also sometimes called metro editor), than in the United Kingdom, where it refers to the editor responsible for coverage of business in the City of London and, by extension, coverage of business and finance in general.[5][6]

Scholarly books and journals

Editors of scholarly books and journals are of three types, each with particular responsibilities: the acquisitions editor (or commissioning editor in Britain), who contracts with the author to produce the copy, the project editor or production editor, who sees the copy through its stages from manuscript through bound book and usually assumes most of the budget and schedule responsibilities, and the copy editor or manuscript editor, who performs the tasks of readying the copy for conversion into printed form.

The primary difference between copy editing scholarly books and journals and other sorts of copy editing lies in applying the standards of the publisher to the copy. Most scholarly publishers have a preferred style guide, usually a combination of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and: (a) either the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Style Manual, or the APA Publication Manual in the US; or (b) the New Hart's Rules in the UK. The New Hart's Rules are based on "Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers", published by the University Press, Oxford (1893). Since scholars often have strong preferences, very often a publisher will adopt different styles for different fields. For instance, psychologists prefer the APA style, while linguists might prefer the MLA style. These guidelines offer sound advice on making cited sources complete and correct and making the presentation scholarly.

Technical editing

Technical editing involves reviewing text written on a technical topic, and identifying usage errors and ensuring adherence to a style guide.

Technical editing may include the correction of grammatical mistakes, misspellings, mistyping, incorrect punctuation, inconsistencies in usages, poorly structured sentences, wrong scientific terms, wrong units and dimensions, inconsistency in significant figures, technical ambivalence, technical disambiguation, correction of statements conflicting with general scientific knowledge, correction of synopsis, content, index, headings and subheadings, correcting data and chart presentation in a research paper or report, and correcting errors in citations.

In large companies, experienced writers are dedicated to the technical editing function. In organizations that cannot afford dedicated editors, experienced writers typically peer-edit text produced by their less experienced colleagues.

It helps if the technical editor is familiar with the subject being edited, but that is not always essential. The "technical" knowledge that an editor gains over time while working on a particular product or technology does give the editor an edge over another who has just started editing content related to that product or technology. But essential general skills are attention to detail, the ability to sustain focus while working through lengthy pieces of text on complex topics, tact in dealing with writers, and excellent communication skills.

Business editing

Businesses and nonprofit organizations often use editors, who may be employees, individual contractors, or contractors from a specialized copywriting agency. Working with writers inside or outside the business, such editors provide services such as proofreading, copy editing, line editing, developmental editing, editing for search engine optimization (SEO), etc.


  1. ^ Mamishev, Alexander, Williams, Sean, Technical Writing for Teams: The STREAM Tools Handbook, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, John Wiley & Sons. Inc., Hoboken, 2009, p.128
  2. ^ "Encarta Dictionary definition of "editing"". Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwbaCYwg. 
  3. ^ "Encarta Dictionary definition of "editor"". Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. http://www.webcitation.org/5kwbaiWpi. 
  4. ^ a b Poland, Louise, The business, Craft and Profession of the Book Editor, in Carter, David, Galligan, Anne, (eds.), Making books: contemporary Australian publishing, Queensland University Press, 2007, p.100
  5. ^ City Editor - Mark Kleinman Sky News
  6. ^ Kleinman Sky News

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • editing — / editiŋ/, it. / editing/ s. ingl. [der. del v. (to ) edit dare alle stampe ], usato in ital. al masch. (bibl., tipogr.) [messa a punto redazionale di un testo prima che lo si sottoponga alla composizione] ▶◀ ‖ revisione …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • editing — index revision (process of correcting) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • editing — editing, edit checks See coding …   Dictionary of sociology

  • editing — /ˈɛditin(g), ingl. ˈɛdɪtɪŋ/ [vc. ingl., gerundio di to edit «curare per la stampa»] s. m. inv. (di un testo) correzione, revisione □ (audio o video) montaggio, post produzione □ (cine.) edizione …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • editing — (editor)   the process (performed by a film editor) of selecting, assembling, arranging, collating, trimming, structuring, and splicing joining together many separate camera takes (includes sound also) of exposed footage (or daily rushes) into a… …   Glossary of cinematic terms

  • editing — edit UK US /ˈedɪt/ verb [T] ► IT, COMMUNICATIONS to make changes to a text, film, etc., correcting mistakes or removing some parts, especially in order to prepare it for being printed or shown: »We may edit your letters for length or clarity.… …   Financial and business terms

  • Editing — A&V Production of finished videotape from source tape. Editing usually involves the use of a computer editing system to select scenes and audio from multiple video and audio sources and record them into a finished program on a single videotape.… …   Audio and video glossary

  • editing — {{#}}{{LM E14209}}{{〓}} {{[}}editing{{]}} {{■}}(ing.){{□}} {{《}}▍ s.m.{{》}} Trabajo de edición: • El editing de este libro va a resultar más costoso que su producción.{{○}} {{★}}{{\}}PRONUNCIACIÓN:{{/}} [éditin]. {{★}}{{\}}ORTOGRAFÍA:{{/}} Por… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • Editing — Edit Ed it ([e^]d [i^]t), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Edited}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Editing}.] [F. [ e]diter, or L. editus, p. p. of edere to give out, put forth, publish; e out + dare to give. See {Date} a point of time.] To superintend the publication of; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • editing — noun Editing is used before these nouns: ↑facility, ↑software, ↑suite …   Collocations dictionary

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