A publications editor is responsible for overseeing the style and content of what are typically hard-copy, physically-distributed journals and periodicals. Typically, such publications have a masthead or mission statement which sets the aim and purpose of the periodical or journal, and the editor helps adjust assignments, submissions, and layouts to ensure that finished products adhere closely to the unified style and aims of the publication.
For most publications, there is significant lead-time before the final publication date. During this time, the editor assigns stories and reviews any submissions and freelance work. For publications like literary journals, editors normally review submissions with other individuals at the journal to assess suitability for publication. Throughout this process, but especially with assignments for staff and freelance creative writers, artists, and photographers, publications editors will establish deadlines for drafts and final work.
As editors, they also review and alter all copy as necessary for style and grammatical correctness. They must possess an outstanding facility with language and words and follow fairly strict style guidelines for grammar, citations, content, and spelling. Publications editors in the English language must have fluency with guidelines such as AP or Chicago-style manuals.
Those in this position may also work with layout and copy editors to ensure that publications are visually appealing and conform to the standards of the periodical. They may be the last line of defense for viewing drafts and page broadsheets before they are sent to a printer, so they must carefully analyze them one final time under all relevant criteria.
Aspiring publications editors must have outstanding written language skills and organization and managerial skills. Many have university degrees in English, communications, journalism, or a related field. For specialized journals within various fields, a demonstrable secondary knowledge, aptitude, and enthusiasm for the subject of the publication is also necessary. Most publications editors work very long hours in an office environment.
Publications Editor Tasks
- Ensure adherence to a style guide, correct formatting and consistent use of language within a document.
- Review, rewrite and edit the work of writers.
- Develop story or content ideas.
- Supervise and coordinate work of reporters and other editors.