Editorial assistants support the editorial staff at all stages of the publication process of newspapers, websites, online newsletters, books, and journals. They collect, verify, process information, acquire permits, and deal with rights. Editorial assistants act as points of contact for the editorial staff, schedule appointments, and interviews. They proofread and give recommendations on the content.
The duties of an editorial assistant typically include, but are not limited to:
- supporting editorial staff in all activities leading to publication, including acting as a personal assistant to commissioning editors and overseeing tasks such as issuing contracts and dealing with royalties
- liaising with other in-house teams, writers, photographers, printers, designers and production staff to negotiate and monitor timescales for stages in the publishing process
- dealing with the administration of work commissioned to freelance writers, picture researchers, photographers, stylists and illustrators
- organising and researching projects to tight deadlines
- summarising written material
- correcting manuscripts
- obtaining rights to use materials from other publications
- using computers for word processing, desktop publishing and email
- dealing with phone and email queries, e.g. from writers and the public
- filing, photocopying and other routine administrative tasks.
In some areas of editorial work (such as an in-house company publication), the work may also involve:
- writing articles and reports
- amending articles
- collating the work of several authors
- using specialist electronic publishing packages (QuarkXPress or InDesign).
In online publishing, the duties could also include:
- proofing, editing and writing online content including via social media
- uploading text and images to a website using a content management system
- compiling and distributing newsletters using specific software.
As your expertise develops, the role may involve:
- assessing manuscripts and making recommendations on their publication to senior editorial staff
- responding to copyright queries from writers and other publishers
- updating and rewriting material
- using your own specialist knowledge to contribute ideas
- sourcing freelancers or other authors to produce new materials
- assisting with the art direction and design of publications
- writing your own material.
The following job titles also refer to editorial assistant:
editorial production assistant
commercial editorial assistant
magazine editorial assistant
digital editorial assistant
travel and property editorial assistant
online editorial assistant
editorial arts assistant
fashion editorial assistant
beauty editorial assistant
children’s editorial assistant
Traditionally, an editorial assistant worked full-time from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This dynamic has shifted because of the many developments in IT services that make it easy for you to work from home. Many publications have also moved online, away from printing physical copies. This means that editorial assistants can perform their duties remotely more flexibly.
Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry into the profession of editorial assistant, although a relevant qualification such as journalism, media studies, communication, or English can help. Specialist knowledge, such as a science or language background, may be necessary for some opportunities. Previous writing or editing experience is essential.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Editorial assistant is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Editorial assistant career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to editorial assistant.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of editorial assistant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of editorial assistant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of editorial assistant.
- Media law: Set of laws related to the entertainment and telecommunications industry and regulatory activities within the fields of broadcasting, advertising, censorship, and online services.
- Editorial standards: The guidelines on how to deal with and report on privacy, children, and death according to impartiality, and other standards.
- Linguistics: The scientific study of language and its three aspects, language form, language meaning, and language in context.
- Database management systems: The tools for creating, updating and managing databases, such as Oracle, MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server.
- Desktop publishing: The creation of documents using page layout skills on a computer. Desktop publishing software can generate layouts and produce typographic-quality text and images.
- Press law: The laws concerning the licensing of books and the freedom of expression in all products of the media.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of editorial assistant.
- Use spreadsheets: Use spreadsheet documents for organisation, analysis and data storage in tabular form.
- Check correctness of information: Check if the information contains factual errors, is reliable, and has news value.
- Consult information sources: Consult relevant information sources to find inspiration, to educate yourself on certain topics and to acquire background information.
- Adapt to type of media: Adapt to different media types such as television, movies, commercials, and others. Adapt work to type of media, scale of production, budget, genres within type of media, and others.
- Use word processing software: Use computer software applications for composition, editing, formatting, and printing of any written material.
- Structure information: Organise information using systematic methods such as mental models and according to given standards in order to facilitate user information processing and understanding with respect to the specific requirements and characteristics of the output media.
- Manage information sources: Identify relevant internal and external information sources and providers. Organise the information workflow and define information deliverables.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of editorial assistant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Search engines: The methods and techniques to navigate search engines and find information quickly.
- Writing techniques: The different techniques to write a story such as the descriptive, persuasive, first person and other techniques.
- Audio editing software: The various software for editing and generating audio, such as Adobe Audition, Soundforge, and Power Sound Editor.
- Authoring software: The software that provides pre-programmed elements which allow the development of interactive multimedia applications in order to edit, structure and lay out content intended for publication.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of editorial assistant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Participate in editorial meetings: Participate in meetings with fellow editors and journalists to discuss possible topics and to divide the tasks and workload.
- Select scripts: Select the scripts that will be converted into motion pictures.
- Answer incoming calls: Respond to customers’ inquiries and provide customers with appropriate information.
- Interview people: Interview people in a range of different circumstances.
- Search databases: Search for information or people using databases.
- Evaluate interview reports: Assess the quality and plausibility of the interview results based on the documentation while taking various factors into account such as the weighing scale.
- Use specific writing techniques: Use writing techniques depending on the type of media, the genre, and the story.
- Edit scripts: Rewrite scripts. Change dialogue. Mark scripts with relevant information for post-production.
ISCO group and title
3343 – Administrative and executive secretaries
- Editorial assistant – ESCO
- Editorial assistant | Explore careers – National Careers Service
- Editorial assistant job profile | Prospects.ac.uk
- Editorial assistant: job profile – TargetJobs
- Featured image: By liftconferencephotos from Geneva, Switzerland – Editorial assistant, CC BY 2.0