Editors work on projects such as books, magazines, newspapers and websites, and there are several types of editors. For example, a copy editor, sometimes called a proofreader, often checks material for spelling, grammatical and typographical errors. On the other hand, an acquisitions editor for a publisher assesses manuscript submissions and may decide which works to publish. In general, the job of an editor is to edit and polish content.
An editor job description tends to list a mix of hard and soft skills. Hard skills usually involve knowledge of software programs and perhaps knowledge of other languages. Soft skills may include creativity, collaboration and communication.
Cultural fit with the company is important too. For example, some businesses want their editors to work firmly set hours, while others encourage telecommuting and a focus on results rather than on hours worked. For more insight, review the editor job description below.
Editor Job Summary
As an editor for our newspaper, you’ll primarily work on the night copy desk from about 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. You’ll edit news stories for grammar, clarity and content, and to ensure that they meet AP style and our in-house style. In addition, two big parts of the job are writing headlines and photo cutlines. We’re looking for someone who is exactingly, incredibly and positively detail-oriented. Nothing escapes your attention, whether it is a typo, errant hyphen or dangling modifier. You’re a champ speller and, with a few deft changes, can take a so-so story into “pretty darn good” territory. You get to stretch your creative muscles too, as we love fun headlines. Our copy desk is quirky, and many individuals fit right in.
- Edit stories for length so they fit in print edition layouts (in general, your job is NOT to rewrite copy)
- Write headlines and photo cutlines that fit the available space as well as the tone and feel of the story and photos
- Hunt down grammatical, spelling and typographical errors, actions which entail deep familiarity with AP style and in-house style
- Call reporters (or seek them out in person) to ask questions about stories; exercise good judgment under deadline pressure if questions are unanswered
- Collaborate with reporters, graphic designers and others to present concise, readable and engaging stories
- Verify information, such as phone numbers, spellings of last names and number of people involved/killed/victimized and so on
- Select local, regional and national stories/photos from the wire; sketch rudimentary designs for them to ensure fit and proper length
- Review page proofs to check other editors’ work and to ensure the correctness of dates, section headers and other key information
Job Skills & Qualifications
- Bachelor’s degree or higher in journalism, English, communications or a related field
- One to two years of journalism experience
- Creativity and critical thinking
- Ability to work nights, weekends and holidays
- Knowledge of Adobe InCopy and InDesign
Editor Job Responsibilities
When writing a job listing, you should make sure the job responsibilities section stands out the most. After all, it is the section applicants immediately look to as a reference point when inquiring about the position’s daily tasks. Because this section is generally the meatiest part of a job post, make sure the responsibilities area of your editor job description answers the most common questions applicants might have.
If all aspects of the editor position are straightforward from the start, chances are you’ll end up with a candidate who is knowledgeable and prepared for the role. Echoing some of the tips presented on this page, make sure the wording in your editor job description is accurate, easy to read and energetic. One way to quickly get information across to new readers is to form a list of bullet points. When creating your list, make sure to begin bullets with action verbs, and try to use between six and eight bullet points.
Below, you’ll find some example editor job responsibilities:
- Plan, coordinate and edit content of material for publication
- Make minor layout and format corrections
- Maintain data consistency across documents and graphics files
- Edit additional materials, including web content, blogs, letters, brochures and proposals
- Contribute to the evolution of the company’s voice and tone
Editor Job Specifications
Creating the specifications for your editor job description can be rewarding, especially because this process gives you the space to make changes, updates and adjustments to the job listing’s features. It only makes sense that you would want to attract the top candidates for the editing job, so why not take some extra time to ensure you’ve included all the necessary information?
By meeting with other members of your team, including hiring managers, you can better arrange the skills your company requires applicants to possess. Is knowledge in Excel an absolute necessity? Do applicants need to have a postsecondary education in English, or does experience in editing alone suffice? Make a list of these requirements, and separate this list from other less-important but desired skills. Write your specifications in a way that helps candidates see themselves fulfilling the position. By taking these steps in the drafting stages of your editor job description, you can weed out unqualified applications and get straight to those that your team would desire most.
Below, you’ll find some example editor job specifications:
- Bachelor’s degree
- Exemplary editing and proofreading skills
- Expert-level usage of Microsoft Word and Excel
- Positive demeanor and strong work ethic
- Prior experience working with website brands and content preferred