What Are Editor Responsibilities? A Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Editors help maintain grammar accuracy and correct factual information in any written content. The responsibilities of an editor typically depend on whether they are developmental, acquisitions, substantive, line or copy editors and whether they edit magazines, books, brochures or generic online content. If you are looking to become an editor, understanding the responsibilities of editors may make it easier to learn about the importance of editing as per style guides, varying rules by different publishing houses and author writing styles. In this article, we discuss the duties, skills and responsibilities of editors.

What are editor responsibilities?

Editor responsibilities typically include refining any piece of content to remove filler material, maintaining a consistent tone of voice and ensuring the author communicates their message to their audience. They also include guidelines as per the author's style guide and check for grammatical errors. Editors usually check facts, spelling, grammar and punctuation. Additionally, some editors work with authors to develop a story and make it more engaging. Some editors may also study the formatting and grammar on each line to identify the smallest mistakes.

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8 responsibilities of an editor

Editors usually fulfil the following responsibilities:

1. Removing unsuitable content

Editors are responsible for removing irrelevant parts of a storyline. This requires them to fix the smallest errors and rewrite the content to help the audience understand the intended message. While eliminating the unsuitable content, editors often convey the reason behind their decision to the author. They also create comparison reports of the original and edited manuscript to help the author understand the changes.

2. Supporting authors in story development

Editors are also responsible for developmental editing and rewriting scene plots and character personalities. As the name suggests, editors typically use their creative skills to strengthen weak parts of the story and make it an easier reading and understanding experience for the audience. Since a single edit can significantly change the storyline, editors often require patience and concentration. As development editing usually occurs through the initial concept, outline and draft, editors can also consider the structure and focus of the content. Based on their analysis, they may suggest authors do additional research.

3. Acquisitions editing

Acquisitions editing is often beneficial to identify whether the book can perform well in the market. As authors create multiple drafts before beginning acquisitions editing, acquisition editors may also manage the financial and contractual aspects of the content. Based on how they like the received drafts, they recommend stories to agents and publishing houses after adding the essential edits suited for the respective party. This responsibility often requires editors to handle the story from the author's writing phase to publishing.

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4. Performing line editing

This duty requires editors to check every line of the manuscript for content, style and language use. They often categorise and identify errors related to spellings, vocabulary and grammar and correct them. An editor usually follows the author's writing style to enhance the content. Line editors typically ensure that the sentences in a book or article are effective.

5. Respecting publishing guidelines

Editors typically work as per the guidelines of the publishing house that employs them. These guidelines can vary across different publishing houses. Some of the guidelines relate to font type, spacing, mentioning dates, crediting system and index formats. Editors usually work on multiple projects at a time and follow different guidelines.

6. Checking facts

An editor's job includes fact-checking across all book chapters, scenes of a script or paragraphs of a generic piece of content. They check all information, including details of non-fictional characters, dates of real-life events, specifics of the event and other statements that can mislead readers with incorrect facts. Editors often check these facts and inform the author to correct them. Some editors even research to check the source of information to confirm its accuracy.

7. Creating editorial policies

Experienced and highly ranked editors may create strong and research-based editorial policies based on the agency's publishing guidelines. They check how competitors are framing their policies and shortlist factors that may allow the readers to like their content. Also, they usually create policies for different genres and content types. For example, they may set different policies for an armed forces book or a biography. Similarly, a book written for academic and non-academic readers may include different editorial guidelines. For instance, academic books follow a formal style of writing, while non-academic books often have an informal style of writing.

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8. Referencing multiple materials

As stories contain information about real-life events and characters and mythical references, editors are responsible for referring to online and offline materials to ensure the details are correct. Due to the lack of published details on some topics, they may frequently search white papers, history books and newspaper clippings. An editor often refers to and analyses information related to a specific topic to edit reports or in-depth articles. They may also refer to original scientific research to submit error-free papers.

Common skills for editors

Here are the common skills that editors typically have:

Collaboration and communication skills

All editors may require significant collaboration to edit an article that all team members accept. As writing is a collaborative process, editors with effective communication skills ensure that every member publishing the book remains informed and involved. Active listening is also essential as editors may conduct interviews, write notes and consult the authors on vocabulary usage. In addition, most editors often work with reviewers and project coordinators, which requires strong verbal and written communication skills.

Grammar skills

Knowing all aspects of editing, from punctuations, spellings, sentence structuring, transition words and similar grammar-related factors, are important skills editors typically possess. Often, editors use editing software to take the help of automated spelling checkers and correct grammatical errors. Grammar skills may prove beneficial during drafting, proofreading, revising, structuring and ideating. A significant number of editors may also use a consistent format of grammar usage across the content and erase any inconsistencies related to spelling or punctuation choices.

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Research skills

Editors generally have proficient research skills. For example, they often check whether the content suits search engines, perform online searches to verify the author's statements and find content that the readers may associate. Editors may also use content statistics related to the frequency of word usage and sentence types by checking competitors' content. These statistics can help develop and position the content in a style that attracts a larger, more relevant audience and increases sales. In addition, research skills can enhance an editor's reputation in the industry.

Reorganising text skills

This skill is critical to establishing stability in the storyline and easily understanding the author's work. Even though the author may have applied a logical viewpoint while creating the storyline, editors usually reorganise text to resolve any open-ended statements which can confuse the audience. Editors may either change these statements to make the message clearer or replace their location in the content to make it more relatable to the audience. Along with making editors experts in checking errors and inaccuracies, reorganising text skills also helps the audience understand the author's purpose of introducing specific scenes, characters and plots.

Ideation and recognition skills

Identifying irregular patterns in the story is a common skill many editors possess. They usually use their storytelling and past editing experience from projects in different genres to recognise these patterns and make changes that clarify the content. For example, if they find multiple Oxford commas, they may remember to remove them while editing the entire content. In addition, their ideation skills may help create relevant guidelines based on the type of errors in the author's content. These guidelines use an editing strategy to remove these errors and improve grammar.

Average salary of an editor

The average salary of an editor is ₹18,983 per month. Editor salaries depend on their professional experience, hiring organisation and location. For example, the average salary of an editor in New Delhi is ₹23,149 per month, while an editor may earn ₹30,311 per month in Gurugram.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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