Editorial system

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Content management systems are software systems for managing journalistic content, such as newspapers, magazines and Web pages as well as corporate publications such as annual reports, press releases or brochures. The main feature is the separation of content, data structure and design (layout) as well as the possibility of access control and workflow . In connection with websites or in the context of corporate communication, editorial systems are also referred to as content management systems or publication systems.


Since the 1980s, daily newspapers have gradually switched their production process to editorial systems. In the course of this reorganization of editorial processes, entire professions like typesetter disappeared . The journalist's work area changed: working on the screen became more and more important.

With the emergence of online editorial offices, the editorial systems gained additional functions, cf. Content management system .

Today, editorial systems are also used in numerous companies. Their task is on the one hand to produce content for publications (catalogs, operating instructions, annual reports, websites, etc.), and on the other hand to manage internal knowledge in the intranet .

Editorial systems in editorial work

Editorial systems were initially used to create print media , later also online media, catalogs and technical documentation in the media as well as in communication between industry and trade. Daily newspapers and magazines, extranet and intranet content, but also website content such as catalogs from mail order companies are created with the help of such systems.

Editorial systems on the web

An editorial system enables online editors to create and edit websites without in-depth knowledge of HTML . At least theoretically, you can format, link, etc. texts without any “programming knowledge”. If it is only a system for creating websites, it is called a web content management system .

Web-based editing systems - the current form of content management systems (CMS) in the publishing and media sector - are complex in structure, but offer convenient operation and often allow editors to work with them while on the move, from other locations .

Working method

Most systems use some kind of file manager or a web browser to get to the page to be edited and then edit it in a WYSIWYG editor. Other systems offer the possibility of navigating through the website like a normal page visitor. Authenticated as an editor, one can then easily create or modify content.

The contents of the database are filled either with the help of a database, table view or text editors. Depending on the system, the content can also be entered and changed with DTP applications.

The actual creation of sheets, catalogs and magazines is mostly still done in a DTP program, which is directly linked to the editorial system. In the DTP program, the content from the database is displayed formatted.

Depending on the editorial system, different types of publications and media can be served from the same content:

Editorial systems can thus export the same content in different formats.

Layout or content orientation

Older editorial systems, especially for print media, placed the emphasis on a flexible layout. In this case, the media-neutral and redundancy-free storage of the content is not in the foreground.

Other editorial systems, mostly for regular publications, often rely on an automated layout. In these systems, the management and finding of information as well as securing the facts are in the foreground. Thanks to the automated layout, entire catalogs can be created quickly at the push of a button.

Components of the systems

Status concept
All content and documents are saved with a status.
Role concept
All employees involved are assigned to a role.
User rights and groups
The systems enable the distribution of different user rights and groups. Thus administrators and other users can be created.
Workflow concept
The workflow is mostly freely configurable.
The systems facilitate the determination of key figures .
Process security
Editorial systems guarantee process security when creating intellectual content. The quality concept from production technology can also be transferred to the creation of content. The structuring of information using SGML contributes to this.
Connection of service providers
Editorial systems enable easy collaboration with service providers via remote access. This can be editors, but also translators, print service providers or agencies.
Version management
Editorial systems can manage different versions of documents. This means that old content can be created on request. Of course, you can check who has changed what and when.
Variant management
If desired, variants can be created from a publication. Since variants usually have a high degree of correspondence, the same database content can be used for different publications. The advantage of reusability plays a major role here. Variants can have multiple versions.
Terminology management
In terminology management, a database manages the uniform use of words and terms. By strictly adhering to the terminology , which is recommended for technical content, the translation costs can be drastically reduced (see also terminological database ).
Translation memory systems
With the help of these systems, it can be precisely monitored which original content has already been translated into which target languages ​​and which have not yet been translated. These systems make a significant contribution to minimizing translation costs and create a uniform translation.

Structured content

Editorial systems with structured content are particularly interesting in the field of technical documentation and catalogs. These systems are similar to content management systems .

A so-called document type definition - also called a DTD - is often used to create standardized content and documents . Such a file describes the structure of a document more or less strictly. The complete content structure is determined.

In this area SGML - and more recently XML systems - offer the most advantages. With the help of these internationally recognized methods for describing information, DTD and documents can be classified in terms of content and precisely structured.

Many editorial systems use this method to create structured documents. Depending on the requirements, strict compliance with the DTD can be enforced or not by the editorial system or editor system.


The high degree of structuring has several advantages:

  • Media neutrality
  • Meta information : The information content is award or tags described
  • Easy management and overview of all stored content
  • Free choice of editor depending on the system. For example: Microsoft Word , Altova XMLSpy 2007 , FrameMaker , Xeditor
  • Interchangeability and retrieval of information
  • Multiple use of information through referencing
  • Freedom from redundancy
  • Automatic formatting using CSS , XSL-FO , stylesheets , transformations
  • Existing DTD schemes can be used. For example: DITA , DocBook
  • Easy connection to translation memory systems - also called TMS.
  • Connection to a Controlled Language Checker (CLC) possible via the editor. See Simplified English
  • Simple publication of the content in several target formats (* .pdf, * .html, * .doc, * .xml etc.) from one source: Single Source Publishing
  • Linking of content in corresponding output formats is possible
  • Use of variables (numbers, dimensions) e.g. Some with connection to a product data management system (PMS)


The structured work requires intensive, time-consuming preparation, which is usually associated with high costs.

  • possibly document analysis
  • An information model (metadata, structure, output format) should be developed
  • Creation of a DTD that is as structured as possible but flexible
  • Modifying DTDs is expensive and affects all previous content
  • The filling of the database
  • Old data migration of unstructured content
  • Creating the formatting
  • Special knowledge is required (training)
  • Often no WYSIWYG
  • Structure, systematics and logical thinking
  • Performance problems can occur
  • Often expensive

Cost and effort

Editorial systems are associated with high acquisition costs. A specialized service provider often has to provide support. The costs result on the one hand from the necessary hardware purchases and the license costs, on the other hand from the service expenditure for customizing , conceptual design as well as restructuring and maintenance of existing documentation.

Many providers of content management systems offer different cost models for the acquisition. The systems are often modular and can be expanded by purchasing additional modules if necessary.

See also

Web links

Reasons for using an online editorial system