Editing is the process of preparing language, images, sound, video, or film through correction, condensation, organization, and other modifications in various media. A person who edits is called an editor. In a sense, the editing process originates with the idea for the work itself and continues in the relationship between the author and the editor. Editing is, therefore, also a practice that includes creative skills, human relations, and a precise set of methods.
There are various levels of editorial positions in publishing. Typically, one finds junior 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 run together. In particular, the substantive editor and copy editor often overlap: fact-checking and rewriting can be the responsibility of either.
Newspaper and wire services copy editors correct spelling, grammar, and matters of house style, design pages and select of news stories for inclusion. At UK 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 and similar jobs are also called "layout editor," "design editor," "news designer," or — more so in the past — "makeup editor." Magazine editors include a top-level editor may be called an editor-in-chief. Frequent and esteemed contributors to a magazine may acquire a title of editor at-large or contributing editor (See below.)
In the book publishing industry, editors organize anthologies and other compilations, produce definitive editions of a classic author's works ("scholarly editor"); and organize and manage contributions to a multi-author book (symposium editor or volume editor). Finding marketable ideas and presenting them to appropriate authors: a sponsoring editor. Obtaining copy or recruiting authors such as: an acquisitions editor or a commissioning editor for a publishing house. Improving an author's writing so that they indeed say what they mean to say in an effective manner; a substantive editor. Depending on the writer's competence, this editing can sometimes turn into ghost writing. Substantive editing is seldom a title. Many types of editors do this type of work, either in-house at a publisher or on an independent basis. Changes to the publishing industry since the 1980s have resulted in nearly all copy editing of book manuscripts being outsourced to freelance copy editors.
The top editor sometimes has the title executive editor or editor-in-chief . This person is generally responsible for the content of the publication. The exception is that newspapers that are large enough usually have a separate editor for the editorials and opinion pages in order to have a complete separation of its news reporting and its editorial content.
The executive editor sets the publication standards for performance, as well as for motivating and developing 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.
Editors at newspapers supervise journalists and improve their work. Newspaper editing encompasses a variety of titles and functions. These include:
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.
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 either the Chicago Manual of Style, the MLA Style Manual, or the APA Publication Manual in the US or New Hart's Rules [based on "Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford" (1893)] in the UK. 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 involves reviewing text written on a technical topic, and identifying errors related to the use of language in general or adherence to a specific style guide.
This activity ensures that documentation is of good quality. 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 relatively 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. In the long run, however, the skills that really matter 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.
Revising is also another form of editing. It is looking for awkward sentences, run-on sentences, and in general parts of the paper that don't make sense to the editor. Usually the writer revises his/her copy before turning it in.