University of Technology Sydney

57046 Professional Editing

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Communication: Journalism and Writing
Credit points: 8 cp
Result type: Grade, no marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.


This subject is offered to postgraduate students who wish to gain a practical understanding of the process of editing written texts, so that they may edit works themselves, or so that they have an understanding of the process when their own work is edited. The subject focuses on the editing of literary fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. The emphasis is on editing book-length manuscripts but the skills can be applied to editing any written texts.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

a. Copyedit written texts professionally and appropriately
b. Understand and respect the role of the author in the editing process
c. Carry out a constructive and appropriate structural edit of written texts
d. Understand the editorial and production processes for producing books and other texts
e. Identify the market and readership of a text

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject engages with the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs), which are tailored to the Graduate Attributes set for all graduates of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the appropriate use of different writing forms (1.1)
  • Critically analyse their work and the work of others, acquiring professional editorial skills (1.2)
  • Understand, reproduce and experiment with genre and form (2.1)
  • Locate and critically evaluate a wide range of sources in literary practice (2.2)
  • Seek to engage with other cultures through examining editing and publishing across a range of genres (3.1)
  • Convey complex ideas in writing clearly and effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences, across a range of media formats (6.1)
  • Explain the importance of drafting and rewriting in the editing and publishing process (6.2)

Teaching and learning strategies

Students will participate in active learning in class by working individually and in groups on a range of texts from small pieces to complete book-length manuscripts. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions, as being able to talk critically and intelligently about a project is an essential editing skill. The subject will explain the editing process, what it is and why it is necessary. Students will become familiar with the skills of copyediting through in-class exercises and discussions. Students will practise copyediting skills, learn to use style guides and become aware of the author’s role in the copyediting process. In the second half of the semester the focus will be on structural editing, which is the 'big picture' editing. Students will work in groups in class to develop structural reports for full-length fiction and non-fiction manuscripts. This will culminate in each student writing their own structural report on a manuscript as their final assignment. There will also be ongoing discussions about the author–editor relationship and an overview of manuscript assessment. As well, students will be given an introduction to proofreading. All learning activities will be based on practical exercises, using authentic texts, and publishing industry standards and practices will be followed. It is important that students gain practical experiences similar to those encountered in the editorial department of a publishing house.

Content (topics)

The subject will be divided into four modules:

1. Introduction: students are taught an overview of the editing process and are introduced to what editing is and its importance. They consider how publishing companies acquire manuscripts and the role of a literary agent.

2. Copyediting: students are taught the principles of on-screen copyediting. They work on short exercises to develop their skills and copyedit a section of a manuscript according to professional standards for an assessment task.

3. Structural editing: students discuss the appropriateness of a writer's style for the readership and identify the writer's 'voice' in the text. They then write a structural report for a fiction or non-fiction manuscript, to articulate the problem areas in the writing accurately and sympathetically. This report will be a constructive aid for the writer. In reality, an editor would carry out a structural edit on a manuscript then undertake the copyedit. However, professional editors usually learn copyediting and proofreading first, then move onto structural editing once they have the fundamental editing skills. This order will be most helpful for students.

4. Proofreading and copy writing: students explore the essential skills of proofreading, along with writing back-cover blurbs, meta data and brief author biographies.


Assessment task 1: Writing a critical evaluation of a bestselling book


b, d and e

Weight: 20%

500 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Accuracy of evaluation 20 b 2.1
Relevance of detail integrated 20 d 1.2
Concision of report 20 d, e 6.1
Clarity of expression 20 d, e 6.1
Familiarity with bestseller lists and the market 20 e 6.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 2: Copyediting


a, b and d

Weight: 40%
Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Accuracy of copyediting 40 a 6.1
Professionalism of approach and presentation 20 b 1.1
Appropriateness of editing markup 20 d 2.2
Appropriateness of tone of comments 20 b 3.1
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Assessment task 3: Structural report


a, b, c and e

Weight: 40%

2500 words

Criteria linkages:
Criteria Weight (%) SLOs CILOs
Accurate identification of a manuscript's weaknesses and strengths 30 c 1.2
Constructiveness of critical report 30 c 1.1
Appropriateness of tone 15 b 3.1
Accuracy of expression and presentation 15 a 6.1
Correct assessment of the writer’s style for their readers 10 e 2.2
SLOs: subject learning objectives
CILOs: course intended learning outcomes

Minimum requirements

Students are expected to read the subject outline to ensure they are familiar with the subject requirements.

Classes are based on a collaborative approach that involves essential work-shopping and interchange of ideas with other students and the tutor.

In this subject assessment tasks are cumulative so that each task builds understanding and/or skills, informed by formative feedback. Consequently, all assessments must be submitted in order for you to receive feedback. Students who do not submit all assessments will not pass the subject.

Recommended texts

Flann, Elizabeth, Hill, Beryl & Wang, Lan. The Australian Editing Handbook, 3rd edition, John Wiley and Sons, 2014


All readings for this subject are electronic readings (e-readings) and are held at search/ereadings?

You can also access the readings by going directly to the UTS Library webpage then to 'Students', then to 'My Subject Resources' and then key in the subject number. A link to all the e-readings for this subject will appear. To access these readings you may need to enter your student number. If you have any problems please contact the library on 95143666.

Students are encouraged to print out the e-readings and bring a hard copy to class. Teachers and coordinators realise that printing costs can be an issue for students. To help with printing go to: students/ facilities/ print-copy-and-scan

Note that where a URL is provided after a reading, students are to access the reading directly via the internet.

Further Reading and References

Macquarie Dictionary, 5th edition, Pan Macmillan Australia, 2009; or Macquarie Dictionary Online (subscription)

Style Manual: for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edition, revised by Snooks & Co., John Wiley & Sons, 2002

Einsohn, Amy, The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications, University of California Press, 2000

Mackenzie, Janet, The Editor’s Companion, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2011

Manning Murphy, Elizabeth, Working Words, Canberra Society of Editors, Manuka, 2011

Grammar and punctuation

Students are expected to have a working knowledge of English grammar and punctuation. Please see UTSOnline weekly readings (Grammar and Punctuation folder) for some useful extracts. Other references include:

Collins Cobuild: Active English Grammar, HarperCollins Publishers, Glasgow, 2003; 2011?

Fish, Stanley, How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 2011?

Fowler’s Modern English Usage, Oxford University Press, 2005?

Partridge, Eric, Usage and Abusage: Guide to Good English, Penguin Classics edition, 2008?

Peters, Pam, The Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, 2007

Strunk Jr, William & White, E B, The Elements of Style, 3rd edition, Allyn and Bacon, Needhan Heights MA, 1979

Tredinnick, Mark, The Little Green Grammar Book, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2008?

Truss, Lynne, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Profile Books, London, 2003