Professional Editing

Strong editing skills are a boon in a variety of professions, including law and policymaking, marketing and publicity, and of course all kinds of digital and print publishing opportunities.

This course is intended for students who are interested in becoming professional copyeditors. With Amy Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook as our guide, we will discuss what copyeditors do, how production-editing works from manuscript to published text, how to utilize reference books and resources, what it means to assign an editorial style to a text, and how to edit beyond grammar. With an eye to professionalization, this course will close with a unit on how to seek out freelance copyediting work, including how to negotiate rates and contracts while planning for tax responsibilities.

We will be working on copyediting a range of texts, focusing especially on how to edit academic journal articles.

Students interested in this course should have a strong grasp of English grammar and a commitment to learning how to help their classmates and themselves become thoughtful and conscientious copyeditors.

Your cumulative course grade will be based primarily upon the following three components:

  • weekly reading quizzes on Einsohn’s text and grammar concepts that we will be refreshing
  • a midterm exam that will include copyediting a short academic text
  • a semester-long project in which students model a copyeditor-client relationship. Students will work in pairs on term papers that they have written for a previous class. They will trade papers with a classmate to copyedit each other’s texts. Students will reflect regularly on how they approach copyediting one another’s works and, in turn, how they feel about being on the receiving end of their classmate’s suggested copyedits. The final component for this project will involve writing reflections, addressed to one other, on what has worked best for them in this partnership, how and in what ways their texts may have improved through this partnership, and how they can continue to improve as professional copyeditors in the future.

The three Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) for English 408 are as follows:

  1. Develop thinking and problem-solving skills in relation to working with written text
  2. Understand the research and depth of knowledge required to be a strong and effective copyeditor
  3. Be able to apply what is learned in class to any new piece of writing with the confidence of an emerging copyeditor