Become a Professional Writer or Publisher

Train as a Journalist or Editor

Writers, editors, and those wanting to work in any area of publishing need to understand what is involved in preparing a document or manuscript for publication, and what factors are considered when selecting and preparing material for publication. In the past, such knowledge could only gained by experience - and that could be difficult to obtain. Nowadays, study provides another pathway into this field of work.


Why study editing and/or publishing?

  • To gain a head start on a career in this field
  • To learn what editors and publishers do
  • To know what editors and publishers look for when selecting manuscripts for publication
  • To understand the publishing process from an editor's or publisher's point of view
  • To know what editors and publishers want or expect from writers.

ACS Distance Education Editing and Publishing Courses

The following courses in writing, editing, journalism and publishing are offered by distance education. For details or to enrol, please follow the hyperlinks:

Editing l

Editing ll

Publishing l

Publishing ll

Publishing lll

Advanced Certificate in Applied Management (Publishing and Journalism)

Proficiency Award 3 in Publishing and Journalism


Excerpt from Editing 1 course


Language and design work together to enhance the readability of a document. Even the most lucid, engaging writing is difficult to absorb if the text is cramped or the headings are poorly organised.

While most publishing firms employ trained experts to handle the design of the publication, copy editors should be familiar with at least the basic elements of type design and page layout. An understanding of the terms used in page and document design will assist editors prepare copy for printing and more effectively liaise with printers and designers.

Editors working in smaller publishing firms or for desktop publishing companies may be expected to take on the role of designer, and so will require a very good understanding of the concepts of graphic design.

Basic Considerations

Typeface (also referred to as fonts in word processing and DTP programs)

There are two main groups of typefaces – serifs and sanserifs. Serifs have small strokes at the ends of each letterform. The strokes have two purposes – they add visual character to the text and they guide the reader’s eye from letter to letter. For this reason serif typefaces are commonly used for text. The most frequently used serif typeface is Times New Roman.

Sanserif typefaces do not have serifs, and are considered ideal for short blocks of text and for display type such as headings and captions. The most commonly used sanserif typefaces are Helvetica and Arial.

Type size

Type size depends on the format of the publication. The body text in books is commonly set at 9, 10 or 11 points; text in reports tends to be larger, often set at 12 points. Footnotes, references, tables and captions are set in one or two sizes smaller than the body text. Display text – headings and titles – is commonly set at 14 points or larger.

Line spacing (also known as leading)

The amount of white space above and below text affects readability. Close set lines are difficult to read, while too much space between lines destroys the sense of continuity. Ideally the leading should be one to two points larger than the text.

Line length

A rule of thumb is about 72 characters for each line across the page, depending on the size of the text and the typeface. This is thought to be the ideal length for comfortable reading.


Justified text has a neat appearance, and for this reason is normally used for the main body of text in books. Unjustified text (ie. text set with an uneven right margin) is easier to read and is often used for reports.


The first line beneath a heading is not usually indented (i.e. it is ‘full out’). Subsequent first lines of paragraphs are indented one em space.

Widows and orphans

Widows are short lines or parts of lines at the top of a page. Orphans are short lines or parts of lines at the bottom of a page. They should be avoided wherever possible – either reword the preceding lines, change the word breaks, or change the line spacing.

Running heads and feet

Running heads appear in small type at the top of the page – the publication title at the top of the left page and the chapter heading on the right page. In some books, running feet are used instead.


Folios are page numbers. Roman numerals are used for the prelims; Arabic numbers (ordinary numerals) are used for the text and end matter. The folios do not usually appear on blank pages.

Sample assignment

1. Explain the role of:

a)a production account manager

b) a production executive

c) a publishing manager

2. What is the role of a publicist?

3. What two file formats maintain the necessary information for commercial printing?

4. You are editor of a website on major global sporting events. Twice daily you update your site with the latest events, results, stories and pictures.

a) Make a list of your employees and their duties.

b) What programs do you use to maintain your website?

c) How do you drive people to your website?

c) What makes your site profitable?

5. Describe the process of getting a colour photograph published in a newspaper.



ACS Distance Education courses provide unique education at a higher academic standard than many vocational courses, but more relevant to the real world than some university courses.

Tutors for our editing, publishing, writing and journalism courses are university qualified with experience in this field. They will provide you with as much support as you need to get through the course, while encouraging you to take responsibility for your learning, and to develop not only the skills needed to succeed in this field, but also the attitude. 


To see the work of ACS students who have studied publishing, visit the publishing section of The Careers Guide here.

Still need more help?
Click here to have one of our tutors contact you regarding your ACS study options. Or, order a FREE course handbook for more information on any of the courses provided by ACS.


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