Editor has four major senses:
- a person who obtains or improves material for a publication;
- a film editor, a person responsible for the flow of a motion picture or television program from scene to scene
- a sound editor, a person responsible for the flow and choice of music, voice, and other sound material in a recording
- computer software based editors that can be used to input and format text. These can be further divided into text editors, XML editors, HTML editors and source code editors.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, editor comes from the Latin phrase e ditus which means "to put forward". The editor ludorum in Ancient Rome was the person who put on the games. In French, editeur means "publisher". The word came into English from French. The verb to edit is a back formation from editor.
Human editors in the print publishing industry include people who are responsible for:
- newspapers and wire services; see below.
- organizing anthologies and other compilations.
- organizing and publishing a magazine —. The top editor may be called editor-in-chief.
- producing a definitive edition of a classic author's works — a scholarly editor.
- organizing and managing contributions to a multi-author book — symposium editor or volume editor.
- finding marketable ideas and presenting them to appropriate authors — a sponsoring editor.
- obtaining copy or recruiting authors — such as the acquisitions editor or commissioning editor for a publishing house.
- improving an author's writing so that they indeed say what they want to say, in an effective manner — a substantive editor. Depending on the writer's skill, this editing can sometimes turn into ghost writing. Substantive editing is seldom a title. Many types of editors do this type of work, either in-house at a publisher or on an independent basis.
- correcting spelling, grammar, and matters of house style — a copy editor. But copy editors at newspapers usually also have greater and higher responsibilities. At U.K. newspapers, the term is "sub-editor."
- choosing the layout of the publication and communicating with the printer — a production editor. This and similar jobs are also called "layout editor," "design editor," "news designer, or more so in the past, "makeup editor."
The smaller the publication, the more these roles run together. In particular, the substantive editor and copy editor often overlap:
- Fact-checking can be the responsibility of either.
- Copy editors who find an inappropriate term or phrase will often suggest or make an improvement.
Editors at newspapers supervise journalists and improve their work.
Newspaper editing encompasses a variety of titles and functions. These include:
copy editors; see above;
- department editors;
- managing editors and assistant or deputy managing editors (the managing editor is next in line after the top editor);
- news editors, who oversee the news copy desk;
- photo or picture editors;
- section editors and their assistants, such as for business, features, and sports;
- top editors, who may be called editor in chief or executive editor;
- readers' editors, sometimes known as the ombudsman, who arbitrate complaints;
- wire editors, who choose and edit articles from various international wire services, and are usually part of the copy desk;
- and administrative editors (who actually don't edit but perform duties such as recruiting and directing training).