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The role of an editor depends on the type of company or publication for which they work. Generally, their role is one of reading and correcting written work for publication. Editors generally determine and oversee editorial policies and guidelines. The role involves overseeing and coordinating publication and requires high attention to detail, good communication skills and an in-depth understanding of the audience for which a text is intended. Senior roles also involve recruiting and managing staff, make editorial decisions, write editorials or reviews.

Editors come from a variety of backgrounds, some have specialist technical knowledge of a particular subject of publication, others have journalism or English qualifications while other still have completed studies in the arts and humanities and are employed for their high level written communication skills, creativity and analytical ability. Knowledge of computer design applications is generally required for the junior roles.

This is a highly competitive field in which entry usually is at a low level. Most graduates hoping to find employment begin work as cadet journalists, proof readers or editorial assistants and progress once they have gained experience. Alternatively, some graduates find that their expertise in a niche area equips them for work in that sector.

Associate/News Editor

Associate/News Editors carry out duties similar to the Editor on a smaller scale - direct or manage a section of a newspaper or other non-book publication, including staff supervision. News Editors direct the gathering, selection and editing of news for news papers, news agencies, television, radio or web news reports or public affairs programs.

Book/Copy Editor

Book/Copy Editors review and assess manuscripts to determine whether they will be published. They have a high level of literacy skills as well as excellent creativity which they use to provide corrections, suggest changes to authors, advise on sales potential and market suitability and organise the terms and conditions of publication. Book editors may also work with designers and printers to take a book through to final production.

Commissioning Editor

Commissioning Editors are employed in a number of sectors that are involved with the arts. These may include museums, galleries, television stations, cinemas, theatres, education programs, publishing houses and so on. Commissioning Editors identify and assess the market in which they are involved, identify and assessing proposals for new projects, programs or items, issue contracts to new artists or agents, develop, support and maintain projects, liaise with other experts in the your field and generally develop an organisation's items, project or program list with involvement at every stage of that program or item's development. This could involve tv programs, book lists, educational lists, play lists, documentary lists, etc.


The role of Commissioning Editor is a senior level position, which can be obtained after gaining experience and ability and working your way up through a number of lower level roles, and often positions are advertised internally. Postgraduate studies in specific areas and work experience may improve your chances of gaining this type of role. Candidates for Commissioning Editors will need to have good interpersonal and communication skills, a business acumen, self-motivation, flexibility and enthusiasm. Successful Commissioning Editors can progress to become publishers.

Editorial Assistant

Editorial Assistants play a support role in the planning and production of written materials. They are junior members of an editorial team and often liaise with contributors like photographers and writers, perform research, complete administrative tasks, proof read and provide any other general assistance required by the editor or publisher. Many editors, publishers and journalists begin their careers as editorial assistants as it is a role that provides the opportunity to observe and become familiar with industry practices and make useful contacts. A bachelor's degree in communications, journalism or arts is usually sufficient for an entry-level position such as this. Relevant arts majors may include writing, English and media studies.

Proof Reader

Proof Readers check printed materials for errors in typesetting or keyboarding before the final printing of a publication. A strong attention to detail is essential for this role.

Science Editor

Work in a range of fields including science magazines, scientific journals and publishing companies. Typical tasks involved in this role include reviewing and editing highly technical scientific material and the research and verification of scientific findings. Ideal candidates for a position as a Science Editor would have a strong scientific background and broad research interests, excellent writing and communication skills, demonstrated ability to understand scientific jargon and to communicate complex information effectively in a language for non-specialists strong organizational and interpersonal skills, as well as creative energy and enthusiasm for science and science communication.

As with other editing positions, becoming a science editor often involves climbing the editorial ladder. An individual at a magazine who is seeking to become a science editor might start out as an editorial assistant or assistant editor and take on progressively more responsibility from there. Usually, postgraduate qualifications in Science (Masters or PhD) or a related area are required to work in this field.


Sub-Editors work for associate editors to assess the suitability of reports and articles for publication and edits when necessary. Sub Editor or ‘Subs’ need to be able to write engaging headlines, may also work on morem substantive issues such as accuracy, fairness and taste. In some positions, they design pages and select news stories for inclusion. Sub-editors usually are journalists with a track record of producing accurate, vibrant work within tight deadlines, while having a demonstrated ability to work as part of a team and across a variety of shifts is essential. Senior Sub-editors write headlines, decide on layout of graphics, contribute to the design of the publication and generate new ideas. Chief Sub-editors monitor pages of a publication and decide which articles will be included.