Technology has certainly changed some of the ways editors do their work and the types of documents they edit, but not the reason for editing. An editor’s goal is still the same: to improve communication.
Depending on the industry and media, there are different kinds of editors, specifically technical editors, book editors, web content editors, academic editors, and medical and scientific editors. This is about those editors who refine the written word, rather than those who work with film, video, or sound.
Editors used to be just as important as writers. Without them, paragraphs didn’t make sense and sentences had errors in them. If you doubted an editor’s work, you could ask to see the text marked up with red revision marks and comments.
Today, editors are often invisible—working silently on the sidelines. They’re not always responsible for awkward phrases or misspellings. Instead, those in an editorial role use specific tools and systems to publish content and make sure it moves along a particular course. They can also be responsible for making sure it is repurposed correctly for different platforms and devices. Some editors get involved in project management, usability testing, and the compilation of style guides.