Become a successful editor or proof reader!
Proof readers and editors work both as:
freelance contractors running their own business from home;
in house staff; employed by book or magazine publishers, printers, newspapers, broadcast media and other enterprises.
This certificate is designed to provide the knowledge and skills to work as a freelance editor or proof reader; or seek employment in the media.
You will be mentored by a team that includes experienced media professionals, journalists, authors and editors; led by principal John Mason, a former editor for four national magazines.
Note that each module in the Certificate in Editing and Proofreading is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
Working in Editing
Very few people can immediately write a lucid and well-expressed piece of work. In most cases, the final draft is smoothed and polished so that others can readily understand the writer’s message. It is the editor’s role to improve the quality of the writing, whether their own or someone else’s work.
Many writers find supplementary work as a proof reader or editor. To do this job, you need to be fast and sharp with picking up grammatical and spelling mistakes. Not everyone can do this; but as a writer develops their writing skills over a period of years; these proof reading skills tend to develop naturally.
Editing involves several stages:
- Reviewing the manuscript
- Structural (substantive) editing
- Copy editing
- Proof reading
- Checking proofs
Opportunities to Work in Editing and Proof Reading
The scope of editing ranges from self editing, where the writer examines their writing and improves it as best they can, to professional editing, where an expert is employed by a publishing company to improve the quality of a piece of writing prior to publication.
There are many other facets of commercial publishing that require the skills of professional editors. These include:
- commissioning publications;
- reviewing manuscripts;
- overseeing manuscripts through the production process;
- liaising with writers, publishers, printers and agents;
- writing blurbs, captions and press releases;
- researching and organising pictures.
In smaller organisations the editor may also be responsible for the design and publication of documents, newsletters, reports, magazines and books using desktop publishing software and equipment.
Every editing job is different in some respect from others, and different editors may be responsible for different tasks. In general, editors do any or all of the following (or may delegate some tasks to others):
- Correct language errors, such as poor grammar, incorrect spelling and punctuation, and ambiguities.
- Identify technical inaccuracies (eg. in a non-fiction book.)
- Improve conciseness and clarity, if and where this is of significance.
- Identify potential legal problems, such as plagiarism, ethical or moral problems, copyright infringements, defamation risks.
- Check for uniformity and appropriateness of content and style, and make or recommend adjustments if necessary.
- Determine whether the content of a manuscript should be deleted or replaced (usually with approval from both the author and publisher).
- Determine whether additional content is required within a manuscript (usually with approval from both the author and publisher).
- Determine the order in which the manuscript is to be published.
- Liaise with all other persons involved in the production of the publication.
- Check and clear copyright material to be used in the publication (for instance, anything which is not the original work of the author should be properly referenced and used only in accordance with the law in any jurisdiction relevant to the publication).
- Prepare preliminary pages and cover, and mark up any end matter, usually in collaboration with the author.
- Prepare instructions for others involved in production, such as the designer, illustrator, typesetter and printer. (This may involve marking up the manuscript, preparing a series of ‘briefs’ and, in some cases, contract or tender documents.)
- Select illustrations, including photographs, tables and drawings from material submitted by the author.
- Identify and source additional illustrations if required (from the author or elsewhere).
- Write marketing material if required (often in collaboration with the author and/or the marketing staff).
- Monitor (and sometimes control) production schedules.
- Check proofs at each stage of production.
- Maintain a record of corrections after production for use in any reprints or new edition.
Risks and Challenges
Editing can be a job that involves a high level of responsibility for any mistakes that may be in the publication.
Editing can be very competitive, and the salary may be low as you work your way up to a well paid position.
Editing can be a high pressure industry that involves meeting strict print deadlines.
How to become an Editor
Like any career, you will need to get experience before you get a well paid job as an editor. You will most likely have to work from the bottom up. You may start with a job as an editorial assistant and learn skills required to become an editor.
What's Covered in some of the Modules?
This course contains eight lessons as follows:
Introduction to Editing
the role and scope of editing
what an editor does
tools for editing
editing skills; the things that make a good editor
danger signs (mistakes to avoid)
the publishing team (the publisher, business manager, production manager, designer, marketing staff)
the production process
the production schedule
The Mechanics of Clear Writing
the readers report
reviewing a manuscript (structure, punctuation, accuracy, illustration, other improvements)
nature of a manuscript
libel, slander, defamation
what an editor should look for
Copy Editing I
what the copy editor does
basics of copy editing
the procedure (check manuscript, read, edit text, edit other components)
introduction to mark up
marking up copy
Copy Editing II
parts of a publication (preliminary pages, text, end matter)
editing non-text material
Preparing Copy for Printing
The Final Stages
There are eight lessons in this module as follows:
- Introduction to Editing - State of the Art
- Editing and Design
- Headings, Headlines and Captions
- Refining Text Exiting - Common Traps
- Matching Style and Context
- Legal and Ethical Issues
- Editing Project
This is a unique, hands on course that develops your practical skills to edit professionally. This course takes you through the processes of editing for a specific publication, submitting work for publication, and meeting the requirements of an editor and publisher.
Working to Specifications
Editing Articles for Online Publications
Submitting Articles for Online Publications
Preparing and Submitting Layout for Publication
Under the guidance of a mentor (a writing/editing tutor), you will learn to edit according to specific criteria, deal with a publisher, and communicate effectively with others involved in the publishing process.
This module gives you hands-on experience in copy editing an online publication. You will work with a tutor (member of our academic staff) who will oversee your role as copy editor for an online publication.
How Much Can a Course Really Help?
What you learn in this course will set you on a pathway. It will give you the basic understanding of editing that is needed to make you useful to a client. It provides an opportunity to build your confidence and motivation; and raise your awareness of opportunities for apply editing skills in the world of commerce.
To get the full benefit from these studies, it is important that you see them for what they are - a beginning. They give you an opportunity to start editing. It doesn't matter if you don't get a job straight off as an editor; but it does matter that you continue to use and build on what you learn.
Getting a Start, Finding Work after your Studies
This may be done in many ways:
- Start your own business helping people edit or write things (eg. resume writing, freelance writing for magazines, writing web site content, advertising material).
- Volunteer to help with newsletters or web sites for clubs, schools or any other community organisations. Even if you don't get paid; this is all experience, and every bit of experience you get is a step closer to paid work.
- Start your own blog or web site and impress potential clients or employers with what you write and how well you edit.
- Offer your services as a freelance editor to book or magazine publishers
- List your availability as an editor with employment services, literary agents, on web sites or anywhere else that you can.
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