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Become A Copy Editor

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Working As A Copy Editor

  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $42,057

    Average Salary

What Does A Copy Editor Do

Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.

Duties

Editors typically do the following:

  • Read content and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
  • Rewrite text to make it easier for readers to understand
  • Verify facts using standard reference sources
  • Evaluate submissions from writers to decide what to publish
  • Work with writers to help their ideas and stories succeed
  • Develop story and content ideas according to the publication’s style and editorial policy
  • Allocate space for the text, photos, and illustrations that make up a story
  • Approve final versions submitted by staff

Editors plan, coordinate, and revise material for publication in books, newspapers, magazines, or websites. Editors review story ideas and decide what material will appeal most to readers. During the review process, editors offer comments to improve the product, and suggest titles and headlines. In smaller organizations, a single editor may perform all of the editorial duties or share them with only a few other people.

The following are examples of types of editors:

Copy editors review text for errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling and check for readability, style, and agreement with editorial policy. They suggest revisions, such as changing words and rearranging sentences and paragraphs to improve clarity or accuracy. They also may carry out research, confirm sources for writers, and verify facts, dates, and statistics. In addition, they may arrange page layouts of articles, photographs, and advertising.

Publication assistants who work for book-publishing houses may read and evaluate manuscripts submitted by freelance writers, proofread uncorrected drafts, and answer questions about published material. Assistants on small newspapers or in smaller media markets may compile articles available from wire services or the Internet, answer phones, and proofread articles.

Assistant editors are responsible for a particular subject, such as local news, international news, feature stories, or sports. Most assistant editors work for newspaper publishers, television broadcasters, magazines, book publishers, or advertising and public relations firms.

Executive editors oversee assistant editors and generally have the final say about what stories are published and how they are covered. Executive editors typically hire writers, reporters, and other employees. They also plan budgets and negotiate contracts with freelance writers, who are sometimes called “stringers” in the news industry. Although many executive editors work for newspaper publishers, some work for television broadcasters, magazines, or advertising and public relations firms.

Managing editors typically work for magazines, newspaper publishers, and television broadcasters, and are responsible for the daily operations of a news department.

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How To Become A Copy Editor

A bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English, combined with previous writing and proofreading experience, is typically required to be an editor.

Education

Employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, or English. They also prefer candidates with mass- or cross-media experience.

Those with other backgrounds who can show strong writing skills also may find jobs as editors. Editors who deal with specific subject matter may need previous related work experience. For example, fashion editors may need expertise in fashion that they gain through formal training or work experience.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many editors start off as editorial assistants, writers, or reporters.

Those who are particularly skilled at identifying good stories, recognizing writing talent, and interacting with writers may be interested in editing jobs. 

Other Experience

Editors also can gain experience by working on high school and college newspapers, and for magazines, radio and television stations, advertising and publishing companies, or nonprofit organizations. Magazines and newspapers also have internships for students. For example, the American Society of Magazine Editors offers a Magazine Internship Program to qualified full-time students in their junior or senior year of college. Interns may write stories, conduct research and interviews, and gain general publishing experience.

The ability to use computers is necessary for editors to stay in touch with writers and other editors and to work on the increasingly important digital media or online side of a publication. Familiarity with electronic publishing, graphics, Web design, and multimedia production is also important, because more content is being offered online.

Advancement

Some editors hold management positions and must make decisions related to running a business. For them, advancement generally means moving up to publications with larger circulation or greater prestige. Copy editors may move into original writing or substantive editing positions, or become freelancers.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Editors must be creative, curious, and knowledgeable in a broad range of topics. Some editors must regularly come up with interesting story ideas and attention-grabbing headlines.

Detail oriented. One of an editor’s main tasks is to make sure that material is error free and matches the style of a publication.

Good judgment. Editors must decide if certain stories are ethical or if there is enough evidence to report them.

Interpersonal skills. In working with writers, editors must have tact and the ability to guide and encourage them in their work.

Writing skills. Editors must ensure that all written content has correct grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Editors must be able to write clearly and logically.

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Copy Editor jobs

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Copy Editor Career Paths

Copy Editor
Technical Writer Program Manager Marketing Director
Brand Director
11 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Project Manager Product Manager
Brand Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Production Editor Managing Editor
Content Director
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager Marketing Communications Manager
Content Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Production Assistant Production Manager Creative Director
Digital Director
10 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Coordinator Marketing Manager
Digital Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Production Assistant Producer Digital Producer
Digital Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Managing Editor Communications Director Marketing Director
Director Of Communications And Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Communications Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Digital Marketing
10 Yearsyrs
Communications Specialist Marketing Manager Marketing Director
Director Of Marketing & Development
9 Yearsyrs
News Editor Managing Editor Communications Director
Director, Corporate Communications
10 Yearsyrs
Instructor Program Manager Marketing Consultant
Head Of Marketing
6 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Account Executive Public Relations
Manager Of Corporate Communications
8 Yearsyrs
News Editor Writer And Editor Marketing Specialist
Marketing Communications Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Editor Marketing Manager
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Editor Project Manager Program Manager
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Instructor Account Manager Marketing Consultant
Marketing Strategist
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Writer Business Analyst Business Developer
Marketing/Business Development
8 Yearsyrs
Graphic Designer Marketing Director Search Engine Optimizer
Online Marketing Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Writer And Editor Communications Manager Marketing Manager
Senior Manager Of Marketing
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Copy Editor Chief 4.9 years
Publishing Editor 4.7 years
Sports Copy Editor 4.3 years
Food Editor 4.2 years
News Copy Editor 4.2 years
Senior Editor 3.9 years
City Editor 3.9 years
Copy Desk Chief 3.7 years
Copy Chief 3.5 years
Business Editor 3.5 years
Executive Editor 3.4 years
Production Editor 3.4 years
Managing Editor 3.3 years
Publication Editor 3.3 years
Editor/Copy Writer 3.3 years
Editor/Proofreader 3.1 years
Sports Editor 3.1 years
Writer And Editor 3.1 years
Technical Editor 3.0 years
Desk Editor 3.0 years
Copy Editor 3.0 years
Deputy Editor 2.9 years
Department Editor 2.8 years
News Editor 2.7 years
Book Editor 2.7 years
Features Editor 2.6 years
Editor 2.6 years
Associate Editor 2.5 years
Feature Writer 2.5 years
Newspaper Editor 2.5 years
Staff Editor 2.5 years
Editor, Freelance 2.5 years
Lead Editor 2.4 years
Design Editor 2.4 years
Magazine Editor 2.4 years
Copy Writer 2.3 years
Digital Editor 2.1 years
Writer 2.0 years
Web Editor 2.0 years
Online Editor 2.0 years
Assistant Editor 2.0 years
Content Editor 2.0 years
Web Content Editor 1.9 years
Multimedia Editor 1.8 years
Contract Editor 1.8 years
Art Editor 1.8 years
Co-Editor 1.5 years
Opinion Editor 1.3 years
Top Employers Before
Editor 14.3%
Internship 11.4%
Reporter 9.4%
Writer 3.7%
Teacher 2.7%
Top Employers After
Editor 19.1%
Internship 7.2%
Reporter 5.0%
Writer 3.8%
Teacher 3.1%

Copy Editor Demographics

Gender

Female

60.9%

Male

37.6%

Unknown

1.5%
Ethnicity

White

82.9%

Hispanic or Latino

8.0%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

1.7%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

43.6%

French

20.5%

German

6.4%

Italian

5.1%

Japanese

3.4%

Russian

3.2%

Portuguese

2.8%

Chinese

2.6%

Mandarin

2.2%

Korean

1.8%

Arabic

1.4%

Hebrew

1.3%

Hindi

1.2%

Greek

1.2%

Urdu

0.9%

Turkish

0.5%

Gujarati

0.5%

Romanian

0.4%

Cantonese

0.4%

Irish

0.4%
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Copy Editor Education

Schools

University of Missouri - Columbia

9.4%

New York University

8.9%

Temple University

6.9%

University of Florida

6.4%

Syracuse University

5.9%

Northwestern University

5.6%

University of Texas at Austin

5.4%

Michigan State University

5.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.6%

University of Kansas

4.4%

University of Oregon

4.3%

West Virginia University

4.2%

Boston University

4.0%

Ohio State University

3.8%

Columbia University

3.8%

University of North Texas

3.6%

Arizona State University

3.5%

University of Iowa

3.5%

University of Maryland - College Park

3.4%

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3.4%
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Majors

Journalism

25.2%

English

24.0%

Communication

12.0%

Writing

8.9%

Political Science

2.9%

Business

2.7%

History

2.6%

Public Relations

2.4%

Psychology

2.4%

Agricultural Public Services

2.2%

Fine Arts

1.8%

Journalism And Mass Communications

1.8%

Law

1.6%

Marketing

1.6%

Liberal Arts

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.3%

Graphic Design

1.3%

Education

1.2%

Linguistics

1.2%

Literature

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

60.0%

Masters

20.9%

Other

10.3%

Doctorate

3.1%

Certificate

2.9%

Associate

2.4%

Diploma

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Copy Editor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Associate Copy Editor News America Incorporated New York, NY Aug 15, 2011 $76,375
Copy Editor C. 2K Entertainment, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Aug 18, 2012 $75,000
Copy Editor Vince Camuto, LLC New York, NY Jun 08, 2015 $75,000
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company San Francisco, CA Jun 05, 2012 $71,956
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company San Francisco, CA Sep 23, 2012 $71,956
Copy Editor Dow Jones and Company New York, NY Sep 23, 2012 $67,600
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 09, 2015 $65,000
Copy Editor, Editorial Partnership Guardian News & Media LLC New York, NY Oct 01, 2015 $63,419
Copy Editor Dow Jones & Company, Inc. New York, NY Sep 17, 2010 $63,132
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 09, 2014 $60,000
Online Copy Editor Daily News, L.P. New York, NY Sep 04, 2014 $60,000
Copy Editor WP Company LLC Washington, DC Nov 23, 2009 $55,000 -
$65,000
Copy Editor 14W Administrative Services LLC Baltimore, MD Sep 16, 2016 $50,000
Copy Editor/Translator Draftfcb, Inc. Chicago, IL Oct 01, 2009 $48,000 -
$55,000
Copy & Layout Editor-AL DIA The Dallas Morning News Dallas, TX Jun 20, 2010 $47,892
Copy Editor Queens Public Library NY Apr 04, 2016 $46,000
Copy Editor Queens Borough Public Library NY Apr 04, 2016 $46,000
Associate Copy Editor Penguin Random House Inc. New York, NY Jul 12, 2015 $45,872
Associate Copy Editor Penguin Random House LLC New York, NY Nov 01, 2016 $45,872
Copy Editor The Washington Times LLC Washington, DC Nov 06, 2009 $45,500
Copy Editor III/Systems Multimedia Inc. D/B/A The News Leader Staunton, VA Dec 09, 2014 $45,136 -
$47,000
Copy Editor Friendfinder Networks Inc. New York, NY Sep 30, 2009 $41,350 -
$50,000
Copy Editor Dahan Properties Inc. Los Angeles, CA May 25, 2015 $38,589 -
$54,512
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA Jun 02, 2015 $38,459 -
$40,000
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA May 05, 2015 $38,459 -
$60,000
Copy Editor Dermstore, LLC El Segundo, CA Mar 18, 2015 $38,459 -
$40,000
Copy Editor Gannett Pacific Corp. Asheville, NC Dec 17, 2009 $37,499
Copy Editor Medianews Group Salt Lake City, UT Dec 24, 2011 $36,584

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Top Skills for A Copy Editor

DailyPaperFeaturesEditorialStaffLayoutOnlineContentWebContentAdobeIndesignFactualAccuracyNewsStoriesEditCopyProofreadArticlesNewsPagesCopyDeskAdobePhotoshopPhotoCaptionsNewsArticlesPressReleasesContentManagementSystemQuarkWeeklyNewspaper

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Top Copy Editor Skills

  1. Daily Paper
  2. Features
  3. Editorial Staff
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Design and construct pages for the daily paper.
  • Create content, covering sports - softball and bowling - and features for the newsletter.
  • Receive high praise from authors, as well as excellent performance reviews from top editorial staff.
  • Handled copy editing, proofreading, formatting, layout and design for the daily newspaper.
  • Proofread online content for factual and grammatical accuracy, as well as clarity.

Top Copy Editor Employers

Copy Editor Videos

Edgewalk Toronto: Toronto Life copy editor tempts fate

Why Be a Copy Editor?

Copy Editor vs. Cat

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