What is an Editor?

At last month’s Editors’ Association of Canada meeting (Vancouver Branch) the need to create more awareness of just what an editor does came up for discussion. Due to that meeting, I’ve opted to re-post some information that I hope will be helpful.

The function of an editor is to read every line with care and attention, to comment in detail with absolute honesty and to suggest changes where they seem necessary.

Editing is about recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of text. The way you use language tells people much more than just the message you are trying to convey. Just like your clothes, the style of your language reveals a statement about you. Presenting your ideas in a clear, well-organized manner adds merit to your professionalism and your message.

Language is a tool and it is a skill to use that tool as clearly, concisely and accurately as possible whether in a business letter, a press release or a website.

Editing is about knowing when to leave things alone and when to suggest revision. A good editor helps a writer to communicate what the writer wants to say in the most effective way. Editing consists of critical analysis, of ensuring that each word is articulated with clarity and appeal. Editing is about being conscious of the writer’s intention.

Editors are like shepherds who guide and contribute to a writer’s success. Editors take the content and help to project one’s work in the best possible light. It is a craft that contributes to another’s rising to be the best they can be.

Editor: A person whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and see that the chaff is printed. – Hubbard Elbert (1856-1915)