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FAQ on life as a professional web editor

Q: Do I need to know HTML to be a web editor?

A: It depends.

Most sites will create a template for their content. As the editor, your job is to see that the content is correctly poured into the template.

You can't manage this feat without a basic understanding of HTML.

Also, there are some crucial HTML codes that aren't in the template, and no matter how strong the schema is, some articles just need a little special fillip, and for that, you need to get out the HTML reference, and experiment a bit.

As in any job, the more you know, the more you'll receive.

Resources

Advice on web writing and editing

Finding a job as a web writer or editor

 

Q: How easy is to go from Web writing to editing?

A: We've always believed that the best editors were good writers first.

But ask yourself how much you depend on an editor to make your words count. One of the most important tasks for any Web editor is to take a lot of information and make it short, but readable.

If you like to send in lots of info expecting the editor to cut it down, the editorial life isn't for you. However, if you find that your pieces usually get published pretty much the way you wrote them, then give an editing career some thought.

Q: What tools do I need?

A: You have to enjoy the Web--not just tolerate it. So of course you have the fastest connection you can afford, and the latest Internet browser (possibly two or three), and a current e-mail program.

Plus:

  • You must use Word, the common application of shops, well enough to follow a template, apply styles, copy and paste, make your text look dramatic, or reduce it to unvarnished, unformatted stream of characters in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (Ascii), or one of its descendants.
  • You probably should know how to create a simple Web page. If you're a potential geek, you can write this in a text editor; if you are a lazy consumer -like us, -you'll want a graphic user interface, like that of Front Page or DreamWeaver.
  • You need to be able to use your browser to steal pictures of someone else's Web site (well, you're Press, after all, and you're doing a story about them), use simple bitmap or screen-capture programs to grab images of other sites (screenshots) and edit those them (cropping, trimming the edges, resizing, brightening, changing the contrast).
  • To keep track of your hours, articles, authors, editorial schedule, and budget, you should get familiar with a spreadsheet like Excel, or a database program (we enjoy FileMaker Pro).

A: What personal traits make for the best editors?

Q. First off, you must be organized, self-directed, and flexible. If you don't have these qualities, then sell cars.

It also helps greatly to be ethical and persistent. You'll be dealing with a lot of artistic people (web designers, writers, artists) and a lot of business people (venture capitalists, advertisers, your boss), so you'll probably need a sense of humor, and a little humility.

 

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The Communication Circle
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