Writing and Editing Skills List and Examples

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You may be a great writer, but still need some help writing your own resume. Writing and editing require a lot of interrelated skills, and it’s hard to know what to include.

“Writing and editing” is a very broad category. Written language skills are an integral part of many positions in almost every industry. Even staff positions and freelance opportunities that center around writing or editing skills occur in multiple fields that don’t overlap.

For example, just because you can create advertising copy or web content does not mean you can be a technical writer or a journalist—and vice versa. 

Yet there are certain core skills that all writers and editors share, plus there are other skills that are important features of many forms of professional writing.

Applying for Work as a Writer or Editor

Besides a traditional resume, you will likely have to provide a portfolio of successfully completed projects and a collection of writing samples. In fact, if you are a freelancer, you may not need a resume at all, because you will be self-employed and looking for clients, not jobs.

For your portfolio, choose those projects and writing samples that are most relevant to the client’s project. Use your cover letter and other communication to point out how the skills demonstrated by your history relate to the client’s needs. Also draw attention to any relevant awards, publishing credits, or occasions where your work led to documented improvements in your client’s bottom line.

If visitation to a website increased by 25% after you rewrote its content, say so. Because clients vary in what they want, be prepared to re-organize your materials for every single pitch.

In many cases, educational or work history not directly related to writing or editing might be relevant to a particular job or project.

For example, you might be hired to edit a book, in which case knowledge of the book’s subject matter is a definite plus. Always be on the lookout for the possibility that your special expertise may be relevant, because the client might not think to ask.

Top Skills for Writers and Editors

Here is a list of some of the most in-demand skills for writers and editors

Excellent Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation
Automatic spell-checkers and similar services are useful, but none are fully reliable. Excellent editing still requires a human being. Do not tell prospective clients that you can spell, however. Show them by making sure the writing in your pitch is perfect and by including any experience you have as a proof-reader. If you are familiar with a specific usage style, such as Chicago or Associated Press, say so.

SEO Skills
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and refers to the various tricks used to make online text more attractive to search engines. Even for online content, not all clients require SEO, and many of those who do provide SEO guidelines for their writers, but if you know SEO, that is a huge advantage.

Research Skills
As a professional writer, you could be called upon to write on topics you don't know much about.

This requires research, usually but not always online. If you are good at finding and assimilating large amounts of information quickly, say so—and provide examples from your history to prove it.

Familiarity with Relevant Software and Platforms
Some clients require the use of certain word processing programs, file sharing services, collaboration apps, blogging platforms, or website templates. Some projects require other types of software, such as spreadsheets or video editing. The more of these you already know how to use, the better. If you can advise your client on which programs, apps, and platforms to use, that is better yet.

Collaboration and Communication
Writing is often collaborative - editing always is. And the reality is that many people hire writers and editors because their own communication skills are poor.

To succeed, you must be able to get along with others, even when the others are difficult to get along with.

Writing Skills List
Here's a list of writing and editing skills to get you started that can be featured on resumes, cover letters, job applications and during interviews. Required skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying, so also review our list of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Research

  • Analysis
  • Reporting
  • Report Writing
  • Online searches
  • Identifying Audience
  • Content Review
  • Content Management

Interpersonal Skills

  • Communication
  • Empathy

Editorial Skills

  • Copy Editing
  • Copy writing
  • Digital Media
  • Drafting
  • Editing
  • Establishing Tone
  • Formatting
  • Grammar
  • Identifying Theme
  • Establishing purpose
  • Journalist Ethics
  • Language
  • Media
  • Microsoft Office
  • Proofreading
  • Revising
  • Spelling
  • Structure
  • Style
  • Punctuation
  • Strong Vocabulary
  • Using the Rhetorical Triangle
  • Devise Structure
  • Establish Tone

Media Writing

  • Newsletters
  • Business Storytelling
  • Blog Writing
  • Journalism
  • News Writing
  • Organizing
  • Print Writing
  • Proposal Writing
  • Social Media
  • Web Writing
  • Presentation Writing
  • Creative Writing
  • Feature Writing
  • Magazine Writing

Technical Skills

  • Outlining
  • Pagination
  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Layout Creation

Editing Skills List
Personal Attributes

  • Accuracy
  • Budgeting
  • Consistency
  • Creativity
  • Detail Oriented
  • Flexible
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Team Player
  • Patience
  • Negotiation
  • Organization

Interpersonal Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Communications
  • Coordinating
  • Project Management
  • Teamwork
  • Author Meetings
  • Consulting
  • Contracts
  • Project Coordination
  • Verbal Communications
  • Written Communications
  • Working with Reviewers

Editorial Skills

  • Copy Editing
  • Clarification
  • Developmental Editing
  • Digital Content Editing
  • Eliminating Jargon
  • Fact Checking
  • Grammar
  • Incorporating Additional Input
  • Indexing
  • Language 
  • Line-by-line Editing
  • Manuscript Creation
  • Mechanics of Style
  • Punctuation
  • Project Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Research
  • Rewriting
  • Rough Manuscript Edits
  • Spelling
  • Story Development
  • Structural Editing
  • Style
  • Style Manuals
  • Stylistic Editing
  • Substantive Editing
  • Terminology
  • Tone
  • Vandyke Checking
  • Vocabulary
  • Voice
  • Web Publishing

Design Skills

  • Design Supervision
  • Final Manuscript Production
  • Mark-Ups
  • Mock-Ups
  • Marking Color Breaks
  • Marking Head Levels
  • Typesetting
  • Working Sketches

Computer Skills

  • HTML
  • Content Management Systems (CMS)
  • Microsoft Office
  • Online Editing
  • Software
  • WordPress
  • InDesign
  • Word Processing

Skills Lists: Employment Skills Listed by Job | Lists of Skills for Resumes

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