Lauren: UBC Copyediting and Proofreading Course (May 2021)

This 6 week remote learning course provided a huge range of information, tips and techniques for how to become a better editor. The class was taught live over Zoom, and this was a great experience because we could discuss issues in real time, and connect with other students and working professionals from Canada and New Zealand. 

We first explored the role of the structural editor – someone who looks at the big picture, how the piece flows as a whole – then the copyeditor – someone who fact checks, looks at syntax, and other small scale issues – and then finally the proofreader – someone who checks the minute details such as spelling and proper punctuation. The course was very clearly structured and every class built on the previous. We had a variety of exercises – many of which seemed simple enough at the beginning but we slowly revealed the huge number of ways editing can trip you up. Some exercises we completed in small groups or twos, and some we took home and finished for the next class. 

Frances, our instructor, has an astonishing amount of insight, experience and knowledge into the editing process. She is an author herself, and has done a wide variety of editing from industry manuals, to young adult mystery novels. Because of this she had insight into the various ways you must approach a project – from the clarity of a set of instructions, to the need to keep the voice of an author in an opinion piece. Frances had an answer to every single question we had! Even though often the answer was, ‘it depends…’. In fact, this turned out to be the biggest challenge of the course. I went into it expecting to learn a strict set of rules that I could apply to my, and other peoples, writing. When in fact I learned that so much of these rules are contextual, or dependent on the style or rules of the work that you are editing. I learned how important it is to always refer back to the style guide, or to have open communication with the author. 

Overall, I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed having such an experienced mentor to discuss questions and interpretations with. We were encouraged to ask many questions, and much of the class was dedicated to discussion. My only advice to future students is to be open minded to many different answers and interpretations to editing questions! 

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Directory - Art & Education

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