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Article: Publishing


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Editor
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Indexer
  • Picture Researcher
  • Proofreader
  • Publisher's Representative
  • Sub-editor.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. You should find out more about the jobs you're interested in.

Video: - Various: Publishing and Printing


Publishing covers a variety of tasks involved in preparing print and online materials. These tasks include:

  • reviewing written material and selecting the best for publication
  • checking the details of written material such as style and grammar
  • writing indexes
  • finding suitable pictures to go with written work
  • laying out and presenting the material ready for printing or posting online.
  • organising publicity
  • selling the publication.

Some of the careers in this area


Editors select, review, arrange and prepare material for publication.

Editors who work for book publishers read manuscripts and select those that are suitable. They then commission the authors to write them.

Editors who work for (print or online) newspapers or magazines decide which articles to include and how they will be laid out. They also review and select submissions from freelance writers.

Entry to editorial work is very competitive. Most entrants are graduates who have worked their way up from other jobs in publishing.

Editorial Assistant

Editorial assistants help editorial staff to commission, plan and produce books, journals, magazines and websites. They also provide secretarial support to editors.

Their duties include:

  • finding freelance authors and issuing contracts
  • proofreading texts
  • researching, editing and uploading photos
  • co-ordinating work with creative, editorial and marketing staff
  • organising book launches.

Some editorial assistants research new content, copy-edit, and write things like headlines, captions and summaries.

Most entrants are graduates. This is an entry-level career in publishing, and it's possible to progress into a wide range of roles, including copy-editor, features editor (in magazines), commissioning editor and assistant editor.


Proofreaders check publications for errors before they go to print or appear online. They work on a wide range of materials, including books, magazines, brochures, academic works and websites.

Proofreaders have tasks such as:

  • marking spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes
  • checking that page numbers follow on properly
  • making sure the text follows house style
  • checking that photo captions match what's being shown in the photo.

Proofreaders use special symbols to show where the mistakes are and how to correct them. Traditionally, they use red and blue ink. Proofreaders can also proofread on-screen.

Proofreaders usually work on their own, although they might contact the editor or author to discuss a problem.

Courses in proofreading are available, including by distance learning. Proofreaders in specialist areas, such as science publishing, might need a relevant degree.


Indexers put together lists that allow the reader to find information in a document. This could be from a book, magazine, website, database, software program or anything else that holds information.

The work involves looking at the item to be indexed and then designing the index in a way that is clear and concise. An index is made up of single words, terms, phrases and abbreviations used in the text.

Indexers decide which entries need to be listed and organise them in alphabetical order. Indexers normally use software, the internet and reference books in their work.

Most indexers have a degree. You can take specialist training, including by distance learning. Specialist subject knowledge, for example, in sciences or law, is useful.

Picture Researcher

Picture researchers choose relevant pictures or illustrations for use in books, newspapers, magazines and websites. The editor or author of the publication asks the researcher to find a picture that is suitable for the content and layout of the manuscript.

Researchers find illustrations by looking in the library and museum catalogues, picture agency directories, The Picture Researcher's Handbook and by using the internet. The researcher also supplies captions (words) for the pictures.

Picture researchers can either be employed by publishers or work freelance. They must work to deadlines and to a budget.

Many researchers start their careers in a related area of work such as publishing, design or museum work. These jobs are usually graduate entry.


Sub-editors make sure written work is accurate before it gets published. They work on publications such as newspapers, magazines, websites and journals.

Among other things, they make sure that:

  • the copy reads well, makes sense and is at the right level for the reader
  • there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation mistakes
  • photo captions match what's being shown
  • the writer has followed house style
  • nothing's been included that breaks the law.

If the copy is too long, the sub-editor will take text out and do some rewriting, being careful not to lose the writer's meaning.

They also need to make sure copy appears in the right place on each page. Some sub-editors design pages and edit photos.

Most entrants are graduates, often with training in sub-editing skills. For newspaper sub-editing, you'll usually need to take an approved course in journalism that allows you to specialise in sub-editing.

Further Information

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ)

Tel: 020 78433700



Professional Publishers Association (PPA)



Scottish Newspaper Society (SNS)

Scottish enquiries


Publishing Training Centre (PTC)



Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP)



London School of Publishing (LSP)



Women In Publishing (WiP)


Institute of Paper, Printing and Publishing (IP3)

Address: Claremont House, 70-72 Alma Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3EZ

Tel: 0870 3308625



Publishers Association (PA)



The Bookseller



Publishing Scotland

Scottish enquiries



Society of Young Publishers (SYP)





Inside Book Publishing

Author: Giles Clark Publisher: Routledge


Editorial Training



Welsh Books Council (Welsh Enquiries)

Address: Castell Brychan, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 2JB

Tel: 01970 624151



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