What Does an Assistant Editor Do?

Assistant editors sometimes provide both copy and content edits.
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Whether a publisher aims to create magazine articles, newspaper stories, online content or literary works, assistant editors ensure the material is top quality. An assistant editor could take on a broad range of responsibilities, some of which will overlap with those of other employees, such as copy editors and even writers. The assistant editor typically reports directly to a managing editor or editor-in-chief and may need to work long hours to ensure the publication meets its deadlines.

Managing Topics and Writers

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an assistant editor may oversee a specific section within the publication, such as the entertainment or local news sections in a newspaper. The assistant editor also usually has the task of pitching ideas for new content in that particular section. Once the topics are decided upon, the assistant editor hands the assignments to the writers; therefore, it’s important for this editor to understand the capabilities of each writer.

Content Editing

    The assistant editor reviews and checks the facts of the content produced by the section’s writers. This review process could require the assistant editor to request or suggest additional sources or information that will help to boost a writer’s work. Depending on the nature of the publication, the assistant editor could choose to include photos or illustrations, such as table or charts, that help support or clarify points in the article. In doing so, the editor also might alter the layout of the finished piece. Assistant editors often have responsibility for page design and layout.

Line Editing

    In larger publications, copy editors take responsibility for reviewing material for mistakes in grammar and spelling. They also ensure that the sentences and words flow smoothly while adhering to the house style. This final review often takes place after content edits are made. However, in smaller publications, assistant editors might also make these line edits.


    Assistant editors also might take on certain writing assignments. This is especially true in smaller publications. For example, if an assistant editor has a great deal of contacts or experience relating to a particular assignment, she could be more qualified to write the content than the actual writers. In cases like this, it becomes the assistant editor’s duty to research, draft and write the article. A managing editor or editor-in-chief likely will take responsibility for reviewing the content.

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