Editor is a general term for a specialist whose duties include the correction of written texts, adjusting it in accordance to publishing standards, eliminating flaws and mistakes, and improving the text’s overall readability and quality. Unlike proofreaders, who mostly fix the most obvious and rough mistakes such as grammar or spelling ones, editor’s work implies much deeper processing of a text, and may include changing its structure, stylistics, and even contents (in case there is such a need, and if the text’s author admits the necessity these changes).
Depending on the genre specifics, there are technical, scientific, art, and literary editors; depending on the duties, there are editors working with authors, commissioning editors, chief editors. The latter is a person who directs and coordinates the work of the entire publishing house, and who supervises all the aforementioned positions. In addition, the duties and work specifics of an editor may differ depending on the place of work (for example, an editor of a book publishing house, bild-editor, an editor on a website, and so on).
Editor’s work implies high level of knowledge of a language in which a text is written, as well as knowing all the nuances and details of spelling, stylistics, grammar, and text composition.
Rather often, qualified editors are those people who graduated from such faculties as journalism, linguistics, literature, philology, actually editing, and publishing.
The emergence of such profession as editor originates from ancient times, and was connected to the necessity to regulate and organize written information. In Medieval times, when the Church was dominating over all other spheres of life, editors were in demand, and their work was often connected to censorship, since the Church was interested in limiting the spread of heresy (as well as any ideas which contradicted the official religious doctrines). During the later historical periods, including nowadays, the work of editors was aimed at communicating information written in the form of a text with the highest possible efficiency, quality, and accessibility.
An editor must:
- Be fluent in his/her native language, know its grammar, syntax, stylistics, punctuation, spelling, and so on
- Be knowledgeable in the subject he/she works with (for example, a person majoring in historical sciences may experience difficulties with working as a scientific editor, since the latter position assumes the knowledge of natural sciences)
- Navigate in the genre specifics of an edited text; and editor mostly working with technical texts and blueprints can hardly perform qualified editing of a novel, poetry, business correspondence, and so on)
- Know the peculiarities of editing and proofreading processes, operate with the so called proofreading marks
- Know the technology and specifics of the publishing process
- Speak one or several foreign languages (this is not obligatory, but is always a valuable asset)
Generally, an editor’s duties include the following:
- Reviewing and correcting texts and other materials sent to a publishing house, eliminating mistakes and flaws in them, adjusting these texts in accordance to the existing publishing standards
- Developing and introducing ideas on how a publishing house’s work might be improved
- Creating work plans for specified periods of time
- Preparing materials for print