5 different types of editors

Editor 4

Whether you enjoy fixing typos or helping friends strengthen their essays, there’s an editing position for you. Not sure which one it is? Check out the top 5 types.


Sometimes called “editors at large” or just “editors,” these people are responsible for creating and maintaining the voice and standards of a publication. Often at the highest editorial level, they manage not only the look and tone of the final product (with other departments as necessary), but other editors, writers, and freelancers as well.

Acquisitions editor

This title is usually only found in book publishing, but similar tasks are performed by associate and section editors at newspapers and magazines. These editors search for new writers, stories, and/or manuscripts, and decide whether submissions and pitches have a chance at the editing pile or end up in the trash.

Developmental/substantive editor

Found most commonly in educational and book publishing, developmental editors guide a writer from the inception of an idea to the finished product. In many cases, they come up with the concepts and assign them to writers. It’s the developmental editor’s job to look at the “big picture” of the work rather than the fine details.

Sometimes, developmental editors are also substantive editors, who also make large changes, but tend to work on finished drafts. At this level, problems in structure, coherence, and consistency are addressed. If editing fiction, the substantive editor examines plot flow, themes, and character development. With non-fiction, substantive editors look at section flow, facts presented, and the strength of messages/arguments.

Copy editor

Copy editors are primarily concerned with the nuts and bolts of a piece: grammar, word choice, punctuation, and spelling. They also ensure that each piece adheres to the style guidelines set by the commissioning publisher/client. Some copy editors may also be required to proofread, check facts, and write titles or headlines.

Online editor

People in this position are usually a mix of all of above editors with specialized knowledge in web copy. In addition to assigning and editing a story, online editors also format the copy, look for relevant links to include in the text, source artwork to accompany the story, and publish it to their website.

Published on November 30, 2011
blog comments powered by Disqus