- Check written content before it's published in newspapers, magazines, on websites
- You'll need excellent English grammar, spelling and headline writing skills
- You may be able to progress to production editor or chief sub-editor
- Making sure articles are accurate, read well and do not break libel or copyright laws
- Re-writing articles to make them clearer or shorter
- Making sure articles follow house style
- Writing headlines, captions and short paragraphs which lead into articles, and 'panels' which break up the text
- Making sure articles are in the right place on each page
- Using page layout and image editing software
- Sending completed pages to the printers
- Working closely with reporters, editors, designers, production staff and printers
You'll need to be flexible about your working hours, as you could have early starts and late finishes to meet deadlines. The period immediately before going to print, which could be daily, weekly or monthly, will be particularly busy. You'll usually be based in an open-plan office, which is likely to be hectic and noisy most of the time.
This role would be ideal for someone with excellent English grammar and spelling, headline writing skills, excellent attention to detail, excellent IT skills, and research skills.
You'll usually need a degree in English, journalism or media studies. You can find relevant courses accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.
If your first degree is not in a related subject you can do a postgraduate journalism course.
You can also work towards this role by starting with an advanced apprenticeship as a publishing assistant or by starting as a reporter or editorial assistant with a regional newspaper or magazine. This can help you to build up your experience of proofreading and text editing. It will also allow you to develop a portfolio of work that you can use to showcase your skills to potential employers.
You'll need to get some experience before applying for your first job in publishing. To build up your experience you can volunteer for student and community newspapers, keep an online blog, have an online presence on sites such as Twitter and submit articles and reviews to local papers or websites. This is also a good way to develop contacts, as many jobs are not advertised.
You might find it helpful to take a sub-editing course if you've already got some experience in journalism, PR or media communications. Courses are offered by organisations like the National Council for the Training of Journalists, the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and The Publishing Training Centre.
You'll also need to be able to use desktop publishing software for many sub-editing jobs.
You may find it useful to join organisations like the Society of Editors and Professional Publishers Association, for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
With experience, you may be able to progress to production editor or chief sub-editor. You could also use your journalism experience to move into PR or work as a press or communications officer.