12 Types of Editors And What They Do

When I’m spending hours at my computer coming up with an article topic, I’m often too tired to notice many of the minor mistakes in my writing. Because relying on spell-check software can weaken writing, this is when it helps to have an extra set of eyes to look over my work. I could just call on a friend to help me out, but there are some types of content that need something more: an editor. Just like there are different types of editing, there are many different types of editors out there, so how do you know which one to hire?

What Do Editors Do?

When most people think of editors, they imagine someone scrutinizing a paper, their pen dripping with red ink. Some editors like to edit the old-fashioned way, but for the most part, editors are simply people who tweak, fix and enhance the content you write. Their invaluable corrections and advice can make a boring piece of content flourish.

Editors today can be found in all settings, such as in the workplace of a newspaper publishing company or online through freelancing services. Not all editors get an English degree, some come from communication or journalism backgrounds. Over time, they get enough experience to become expertly skilled in grammar, spelling and story structure.

What Are the Different Types of Editors?

Selecting the right editor for your project depends on your needs and, sometimes, your budget. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different roles editors can play in getting an article or a book published.

1. Beta Reader

Beta readers are generally those people you let look over your writing to get their opinion. They aren’t required to have a lot of background in editing, but they have valuable advice that only a fresh pair of eyes can give. This is an ideal way to receive feedback if you are writing a book.

Many authors may ask for beta readers and create a questionnaire for the readers to get early feedback on a story. You want to find beta readers if you are looking for feedback from the general public for your work. Knowing how the audience feels about your writing can help you create a more compelling version before you publish.

2. Proofreader

The types of editors and their roles may vary, but proofreaders are one of the most common types. Proofreaders look over content after it has gone through other stages of editing. It is the final readthrough before publishing. Proofreaders often only look for glaring mistakes in grammar and punctuation, and they may give little feedback as to quality or content development.

You want to hire a proofreader if you are concerned about spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes, such as in articles or resumes. It is also reassuring to have one read-through before publishing your work. Some proofreaders will mark up the content to show where the corrections were made, while others will simply catch anything they see and move on.

3. Online Editor

The term “online editor” includes anyone you can find online to look over your content. These types of editors are most likely freelancers, and their skill sets may vary. Hiring online can be a helpful option if you don’t know who to turn to.

If you plan on hiring an online editor, first make sure he or she is well-versed in the type of editing you are looking for. Prices may vary, so be sure to find the right level and type of editing expertise that you are looking for.

4. Critique Partner

A critique partner tends to be a writer or published author who looks over a story and helps another writer or aspiring author to raise the quality of his or her work. A CP may act more as a coach than an editor. You want a critique partner when you need guidance on developing a story for publication.

If you have connections with other writers, this is a great way to swap work and receive great feedback. Because your CP is also a writer, they can find specific ways to improve your writing such as developing characters, describing the setting more naturally and cutting out cliché writing.

5. Commissioning Editor

Also known as an acquisition editor, a commissioning editor is the one who looks for books or articles for publication. This is the person to talk to if you’re looking to get a book published or if you’re a freelance writer and want to pitch an article or blog to a particular site or company.

This type of editor searches for books and articles that will benefit the publishing house or company. They keep an eye on market trends and find authors, book proposals and potential ideas that can appeal to hungry readers. If you think your novel or article is extraordinary, pitch it to a commissioning editor.

6. Developmental Editor

Developmental editors act as coaches for writers to get a story ready for publication. They cheer you on and help you stay on track with the tone, structure and audience. They also challenge you to improve your writing and may fight with you on how to develop your plot.

When you need guidance on moving your story forward, developmental editors should be able to help. They may also spend some of their time ghostwriting. Especially for novels, this type of editor is a must-have.

7. Content Editor

Content editors look at everything the writing encompasses. With books, they look over the story and make changes as necessary to the plot, characters, setting and so forth. In journalism or online publications, a content editor ensures the article’s scope is accurate for its audience and subject matter.

If you’re looking for extensive editing, this type of editor is a great option. They will look at everything in your work, making sure that overall, the content is high-quality and engaging. Some content editors even consider marketing strategy and the overall effectiveness of the writing.

8. Copy Editor

Copy editors, also known as line editors and sometimes as content editors, usually look at everything from facts to grammar and formatting. These editors can do it all. Copy editors specifically study punctuation and grammar. They have extensive knowledge of the English language and are familiar with writing styles.

9. Associate Editor

Associate editors often work for newspapers or magazines. Another term for this position is “section editor.” An associate editor often has the same responsibilities as an acquisition editor; he or she is in charge of seeking out stories or content for publication.

These types of editors read and review material that will be published. They often coordinate topics that may be interesting to readers, and they’ll do some tweaking to make the title and content engaging. They keep the overall goal of the newspaper or magazine in mind while picking and editing content.

10. Contributing Editor

Contributing editors tend to contribute their services to a magazine or newspaper and may also be referred to as a roving editor. In the journalism industry, a contributing editor is sometimes called an editor-at-large. A contributing editor has more freedom to choose what they edit or work on and they contribute regularly.

11. Chief Editor

Also known as an executive editor, the chief editor is the person overall in charge of an article, story or other content. The chief editor is the one who looks over the final product to ensure it meets company standards and approves it for release.

It may take years of experience to be considered for this position. But if you’re looking for someone who knows what they’re doing, a chief editor can have the final say on your written content.

12. Editor-in-Chief

So what is an editor-in-chief? The editor-in-chief is generally the person who oversees the editing department and manages all of the other editors for the company. They distribute the work to the editing team and oversee bigger projects. The EIC is also responsible for maintaining the voice of the company and upholding its philosophy and mission. Publishing companies sometimes refer to editors-in-chief as editors-at-large, which essentially means they can work on whatever project they choose to.

Different Types of Editing: Make the Right Choice

Don’t underestimate the power of a good editor. Even the best proofreading and editing tips for writers are no substitute for a fresh set of eyes. Whether you are working on a novel or publishing blog posts for your company’s content marketing strategy, an editor can improve your content.


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