Fundamentals of Editing

Course Overview

Fundamentals of Editing
Self-Directed Course

This course is $11.95 for members of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). Watch your member email to get details about the discount.

About Self-Directed Courses

In a self-directed course, you can start and stop whenever you like, progressing entirely at your own pace and going back as many times as you want to review the material.

Editing is so much more than enforcing consistency and corralling commas and apostrophes to their proper places. Editing encompasses a huge range of tasks that give text a professional polish, from enhancing clarity to checking the facts. A great editor can polish any writing, trimming flabby or redundant text to fit its space and its audience.

Knowing your audience and the purpose of an article is a critical first step in expert editing. Is the piece meant to inform, persuade, tell a story? Will your piece be read by students or academics, experts or the general public? Each audience and each type of writing demands a different writing voice — and therefore a different approach to editing.

Learn to avoid the most common grammatical, punctuation and usage errors, recognize sound structure, identify any holes in a story and verify that all the facts check out. Refine your ability to explain why a change is needed. Most important of all — master a process for editing to ensure that you don’t skip any necessary steps in preparing a piece of text for publication.

This course introduces the many ways an editor can improve any writer’s work and teaches foundational skills that no editor can be without. Whether you are editing your own or others’ writing, you’ll benefit from a review of these essential skills.

Before you begin, take the pre-test to measure your understanding of grammar, punctuation and word use in the English language. We'll get to the Gallery of Errors a little later in the course.

TestsTest StatusAction
Pre-Test: Test Your Grammar Skills0%Passed E-mail score
Test Yourself in the Gallery of Errors0%Passed E-mail score
What Will I Learn:
  • The steps in the editing process and to find a process that works best for you
  • How to Identify sound story structure
  • How to find holes in a story and fix them
  • How to manage relationships with writers and explain why editing changes are needed
  • How to identify factual errors in a story and steps for verification

Want to learn more about editing? This course is part of a certificate in editing offered by Poynter NewsU and the American Copy Editors Society.

Who should take this course:

Anyone who writes or works with writers can benefit from expert editing. Writers, editors, bloggers, writing teachers and students, communications professionals, anyone who writes letters, emails, memos, tweets, blogs, news or feature stories, or any text at all that must be read and understood by others will benefit from the Fundamentals of Editing.

Course Instructors:

Andy Bechtel

Andy Bechtel teaches editing and writing at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has about a dozen years of experience as a copy editor at North Carolina newspapers.

Lisa McLendon

Lisa McLendon runs the Bremner Editing Center at the University of Kansas journalism school, where she also teaches editing and grammar. She has previously worked as a copy editor and book reviewer at the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle and as a copy editor, designer and desk chief at the Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle.

Sue Burzynski Bullard

Sue Burzynski Bullard is on the ACES: The Society for Editing executive committee. She teaches editing, reporting, ethics and multimedia classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before joining academia, Sue held a variety of editing positions at The Detroit News, including a three-year stint as managing editor. In 2014, she was named the Society of Professional Journalists’ Educator of the Year. She’s won numerous other journalism education awards. The second edition of her textbook, “Everybody’s an Editor: Navigating Journalism’s Changing Landscape,” was published in 2014.

Training Partner:

ACES: The Society for Editing

ACES: The Society for Editing is a nonprofit education and membership organization working toward the advancement of copy editors. Its aim is to provide solutions to editing problems, training and a place to discuss common issues.

The organization is an international members’ alliance of editors working at newspapers, magazines, websites, traditional media outlets and Fortune 500 companies, as well as freelance editors, students and professors. It is an organization built on the advocacy of editing as a craft vital to clear writing and reader advocacy.