Professional Editing

Discussion and practice in professional editing. Specific focus on editing of articles, books, and reports with a focus on logic, clarity, coherence, consistency of tone and style, and conventional grammar and punctuation. Pre: 306, 311, 313, 403, or 405; or consent.

The Overall Course Goals for English 408 are twofold—1). to introduce students to the very real elements involved in becoming and establishing one’s self as a professional editor/copyeditor/proofreader in the ever-evolving world of publishing and 2). to nurture students in their individual investigations into the difference between writing well and editing well by helping them develop the ability to find and fix everything possible in a given manuscript.

There are three Student Learning Outcomes for English 408: 1). develop thinking and problem solving skills in relation to working with written text (i.e., “What are the problems with this manuscript, and how do I fix them?”), 2). understand the research and depth of knowledge required to be a strong and effective editor/copyeditor/proofreader (i.e., “Know the basics, do the research, and make a manuscript the best it can be.”), and 3). be able to apply what is learned in class to any new piece of writing with the confidence of an emerging professional editor/copyeditor/proofreader.

As a class, we will take a field trip to a local publishing company. The overall design of the course will span sixteen weeks with a different editing “problem” or “situation” as the focus for each week (e.g., “Clichés, Jargon, and Clutter” and “Dangling and Misplaced Modifiers”). Classes will involve weekly readings and editing activities along with quizzes. Grades will largely be based on the accuracy of the editing on those activities and taking those quizzes; however, there will also be one graded writing assignment that has two parts (hence two separate writing grades). There will not be a final exam for this course.

I must express strongly that students enrolled in 408 should have a solid grasp on grammar consistencies within the English language. All enrolled will be expected to work on a professional level and will be graded accordingly.

The primary course text is The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications (Third Edition) by Amy Einsohn. The secondary course text is a compendium that I have created for my English 408 students. This text will need to be purchased by students during the first or second day of class—approximately $36.

A text that is strongly recommended but not required is The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers (16th Edition). In addition, students should have access to a dictionary (whether print or online) that is more prescriptive (proposing “correct” usage) and less descriptive (“neutral”) and one that lists the most common definition first, versus giving definitions in historical order. Other grammar and language usage handbooks will also be useful to students enrolled in 408.