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In editing , a conceptual distinction must first be made between the actual job description of the editor or its organizational form and the specific form of editing a text. The organizational form of a proofreading can on the one hand be a department in a publishing house or in an advertising agency and on the other hand the service of a translation agency or a company that usually specializes in text correction. The latter often only has a few (permanent) employees or is a sole proprietorship . As a form of editing, editing usually includes the spelling , stylistic , grammatical and content improvement of texts. In addition to editing, the field of responsibility of an editor also includes checking incoming manuscripts or typescripts , putting together a publisher's program , publication marketing and accompanying scripts through to publication. Texts are checked spellingly and grammatically by a proofreader . The stylistic editing is called stylistic editing , which mostly includes proofreading, but always goes beyond it. The English term copy editing is also increasingly in use .

In addition to permanent editors, freelance specialists are increasingly being involved in publishing activities. This is not only done for economic reasons, but above all to improve quality through specialized editors. Freelance editors not only work for book publishers, but also, for example, for advertising agencies, public institutions, companies and private customers.


The job title "Lektor" and access to the job are basically free, there is no regulated training or study. In many cases, however, there is the option of completing a traineeship for the job description of the publishing editor . Lecturers have also often completed a humanities degree, mostly German , English and linguistics . Expertise may also be required to work as a freelance editor or for publishers. This is particularly, but not limited to, science editing.

Job profile

Working in freelance editing does not differ fundamentally from the field of activity of a publishing editor. Nevertheless, different priorities have emerged in both segments. In the area of ​​the publisher's editor, this includes, among other things, the manuscript review, the design of the publisher's program, the project and author support, the clarification of rights and the marketing of books. Freelance editors, on the other hand, concentrate mainly on classic proofreading and editing manuscripts. The focus of the work is on formal and content-related aspects of a text. If both formal and content-related aspects are taken into account in proofreading, one usually speaks of "proofreading"; if only formal errors are corrected, on the other hand, one speaks of "proofreading". However, the fields of activity outlined here are not exclusive. Publishing editors still correct manuscripts, and there are freelance editors who have significantly expanded their range of services in the field of publications, for example for product descriptions, customer information and other services.

In a publishing house, incoming manuscripts are first checked by the (publishing) editor . If he thinks one is suitable, i.e. suitable for the publisher's program, he advises the publisher to accept it. For this purpose, revisions are made, suggestions for book projects are made and authors or translators are sought.

In scientific publishers, so-called specialist book publishers, the editing is mostly occupied by relevant specialists. For example, if a publisher predominantly sells biological textbooks, the majority of the editors usually have a degree in biology.

If wide areas of product policy are also covered in a publisher's proofreading , this is called proofreading marketing .

Tasks and working methods of the editing department

The editing department is responsible for quality assurance of texts. This is done through the formal (grammar, spelling, expression, and increasingly detailed typography) and content review or correction and adaptation (including uniformity of names and terms, factual correctness) of texts. This activity can usually be divided into "editing" and "proofreading". While the latter only focuses on formal defects, the editing offers a comprehensive review of text form and content. This classic activity of the editor, the proofreading of manuscripts, requires not only a solid knowledge of the grammar, spelling and punctuation rules of a language, but above all persistent concentration, the ability to think in context, an eye for the structure of the text and a sense of style.

The publisher's editor not only carries out text corrections himself, but also provides the authors with advice and assistance in this regard. This often leads to an adaptation of the content of the work to the publisher's program. The pure text work is declining more and more for editors in the publishing sector in favor of other areas (program planning, marketing, etc.).

The range of services offered by an editing department often also includes the formatting and / or the creation of layouts of the supervised work. In this context, the term “editorial staff” is often used, although this use of the term is ambiguous. This work is becoming increasingly important, especially for academic theses, such as the bachelor thesis or dissertation, as specific guidelines are often given. Digital publications also require special formatting skills.

Editing is a specialty in music publishing - if only because of the variety of requirement profiles that characterize the profession. A musicological education is often the starting point for a job in music publishing. Nevertheless, access via a vocal or instrumental pedagogy or an artistic music course is conceivable. Depending on the orientation of a publishing program, multiple qualifications are advantageous in the design of the publishing projects, because the activity requires artistic, music-pedagogical, musicological and general language skills with different weightings. For music editing, a comprehensive knowledge of music theory (harmony, counterpoint, music history) is indispensable, sometimes it is also a sound knowledge of performance practice, the editing technique and the theory of notation.

Forms of editing

The editing form of an editing is basically dedicated to the formal and content review of a text. However, there are also different priorities with regard to different text forms and requirements.

Stylistic editing

The main focus of the stylistic editing is on questions of linguistic style, legibility and comprehensibility of a text. For example, it is important to ensure that the language works harmoniously, whether sentences are possibly too nested and whether the text is linguistically designed so that, depending on the genre of figure drawing, dramaturgy or theses and arguments, can be understood by the reader. The assessment criteria always depend on the purpose of the text and what genre it belongs to, whether it is a novel, a play or a factual text.

Science editing

The science editing department is dedicated to high-ranking scientific publications as well as theses such as bachelor and master theses. As with editing in general, attention is paid here to formal and content-related aspects. The specialty of this type of editing results from the scientific standards that a text must meet. This means that the structure must usually contain aspects such as "question / problem", "methodology", "evidence / argumentation" and "result / conclusion", and the argumentation or evidence should be understandable for the expert reader. Depending on the specific objective, academic editing can focus on improving the argumentation or style of presentation, checking the correctness of facts or checking the correctness and completeness of references.

Advertising editing

In the case of advertising editing, in addition to the formal correction, it is not about the correctness of statements, but about checking a text with regard to its suitability for selected target groups. This can be associated with a certain closeness to the stylistic editing, whereby the style criteria in this case are customer- or product-specific. Typical text forms in the case of advertising editing are product and image brochures, cover letters and reply faxes, order applications and bank orders, banners and entire websites, instructions for use and data sheets, business cards and stationery, package inserts and patient guides, catalogs and posters, business reports and general terms and conditions. Another focus is, for example, the examination of a uniform design of advertising materials with recognition value for customers, i.e. the consistent use of uniform colors, logos, slogans, etc. "Because of the generally very demanding clientele, a lot of experience is required for a successful job in advertising editing."

Economical meaning

The industry association puts the value of the editing services provided annually in Germany at over one billion euros. The largest share is accounted for by permanent editors in advertising agencies and publishing houses.

Due to the possibility of data transmission over the Internet, editing services are increasingly being performed by external editors in practice. Many freelance editors offer additional services, such as the partial or complete production of texts (in VFLL jargon: "producing", but this term is ambiguous and therefore generally unsuitable), author acquisition and support, image editing, research, texts, indexing and Ghostwriting.

In addition to publishers, clients of freelance editors include advertising and PR agencies, companies, authors / self-publishers, newspapers and magazines and public institutions.

Individual editing departments specialize in certain types of texts (e.g. advertising copy) or customers (e.g. students). Despite a few very large companies, the market for external editing services is highly fragmented as there are countless one-person companies. There is no exact number; The number of members in the Association of Independent Lecturers e. V. (2019: around 950) and the number of people insured with the Artists 'Social Insurance Fund (KSK) who are listed there as lecturers (2014: 2550) Freelance lecturers are freelancers and can check their social security with the Artists' Social Insurance under "Wort " to lock.

In publishing, performance and success are spread across many areas: In addition to editing, there are production , design , marketing and sales .


In the 18th century it was customary for editors to write themselves, i.e. in addition to being a lecturer, they were also authors. Examples include Johann Gottfried Seume , or even earlier, at the beginning of the 16th century, Erasmus von Rotterdam . In the 20th century, for example, the authors Horst Bienek , Moritz Heimann , Hermann Kasack , Oskar Loerke , Kurt W. Marek and Peter Rühmkorf also worked as editors, at least at times. This type of dual job is rare these days. As a rule, editing is the only activity of a publishing editor, even if there are individual publications by publishing editors. Freelance editors often offer services that go beyond pure editing. This also includes writing books as well as copywriting and ghostwriting.

See also

Wiktionary: Proofreading  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • Association of Independent Lecturers e. V .: Guideline for free editing , 10th, completely revised and expanded edition 2014, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-9808876-3-2 .
  • Gunther Nickel (Ed.): Crisis of the editing? Wallstein, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-8353-0061-X .
  • Ute Schneider : The invisible second. The professional history of the lecturer in the literary publishing house. Wallstein, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-89244-758-6 .
  • Michael Schickerling, Birgit Menche (among others): Making books. A manual for editors and editors. Bramann, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-934054-17-X .
  • Martin Bruch, Johannes Schneider (Ed.): In the workshop of the lecturers. 10 conversations . Hildesheim 2007, ISBN 978-3-934105-15-7 .
  • Klaus Reinhardt: From knowledge to books . Bern 2008, ISBN 978-3-456-84521-0 .
  • Peter Paul Schwarz, Susanne Krones: Readers, writers. Editing in the literary publishers at the turn of the millennium. In: Evi Zemanek, Susanne Krones (ed.): Literature of the turn of the millennium. Topics, writing methods and book market around 2000 . transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-924-4 , pp. 373-388.

Web links

Individual evidence

  3. Michael Köhler, advertising editing, in: Association of Free Lecturers (ed.): Guide for Free Lecturing, 8th updated edition, Amorbach 2012
  5. Association of Independent Lecturers e. V .: Guideline for free editing , 11th edition 2018, Bramann Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-95903-001-4 .
  7. Association of Independent Lecturers e. V .: Guideline for free editing , 11th edition 2018, Bramann Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, p. 119.
  8. z. B. Generation Goofy