ETWR 2379—Editing Business, Government
and Technical Information (Online)

Course description
Course objectives
Course activities
Course policies
Grading plan

Course schedule
Course resources

The following provides an overview of this course, its objectives, policies, grading plan, and other information about the course.

Course Description

This course introduces you to the standards, techniques, skills, tools, organization, and processes needed by editors working both freelance and in-house in the technical-publishing industry. While this course is designed for beginning technical editors, experienced technical editors will find it a useful refresher. Others will find this course useful for extending their technical communication skills, and adding to or polishing their writing skills and brushing up on grammar, usage, punctuation, and style. The course covers the basics of

  • Copy marking
  • Copy editing
  • Electronic editing
  • Code-type markup
  • Style sheets
  • Style guides
  • Comprehensive (substantive, developmental) editing
  • Edit review summaries


The course objectives are to

  • Develop an understanding of editing and its role in document development, publications, and use. (Rude textbook)
  • Practice both hardcopy and softcopy editing and various levels of edits.
  • Be able to cite standards for editorial recommendations.
  • Use or in-house standards for editing.
  • Develop efficiency and accuracy as an editor.
  • Be able to interact with writers tactfully but firmly. (Rude textbook)
  • Understand and use editing-oriented reference books.
  • Be able to function as a lead editor by developing resources such as a style guide.

Note: Passing this course does not certify that you are a professional-level copyeditor. It takes much more than a college semester for most people to be able to spot grammar, usage, punctuation errors at a high rate of accuracy.


Each week, I will send an e-mail message indicating the web location of the meeting in which we will group-edit a range of documents. If you cannot attend the meeting, you can review the recording of it. To get credit for the meeting, perform the edit (or edits) done in the meeting, and send them to me by e-mail attachment.

During the week and as you do the practice edits, if you have questions, post them to the Open Forum. You will receive credit for this activity.

There will be a reading quiz for each of the textbook chapters in the schedule.


These are required:

  • Carolyn Rude. Technical Editing, 4th edition. Longman (or Pearson). The current ediition, the 5th, is over $100.
  • Microsoft. Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. (4th ed.) This 4th edition is a major improvement over the 3rd. ACC library has an online version of this book at Free! Click Ebook Central.

    If you want to purchase your own copy, be careful to inquire about edition number: the Microsoft style book must be the 4th edition. Unfortunately, the online version does not display well on a Kindle (and probably any other similar device). You can order a free sample to see the problem with tables (and there are many).

You are encouraged to get one or more of these reference books, although we will not be using them in this course:

  • Chicago Manual Style
  • Brian Garner. Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford
  • Any standard grammar-usage-punctuaton reference (such as the Little, Brown handbook or the St.Martin's handbook, available at ACC bookstores for ENGL 1301 and 1302 courses)
  • Alred, et al. Handbook for Technical Writing

If you are concerned about grammar, usage, and punctuation, ETWR 1372/1072 covers these issues more directly. Alternatively, you can pick up one of these books and use the online tutorials they make available:

  • English Fundamentals
  • The Least You Should Know about English

Note: Online exercises for English Fundamentals are available with purchase of the book. I can make them available to you.


Your final grade will be based on the following:

Category Points
Editing quizzes (3) 30
Edit log, coding, edit summary 9
Practice edits (10) 20
Chapter and reading quizzes (24) 12
Style guide 18
Forum 11
  • We will do a number of practice edits (as shown above). Edit documents before the scheduled online meeting time. To get credit for having done the edit, send me a summary of the items you missed, the items I missed, and the items you wonder about.
  • In addition to the Rude quizzes, there are quizzes on page design.
  • We will also do an edit summary, which is an important component in communicating with writers, and an exercise in code markup, which is a common editorial task in the publishing industry.
  • To get this course started, you will study some common writing errors and do exercises involving them. Missing these errors in edits can really hurt your grade. You must complete these exercises before I will accept edits from you. There is no credit for this work in the grade scheme: you really should know this before taking this class.

Course Policies

  • Open Forum participation: If you have editing questions as your do the practice edits, post them in the Open Forum. You'll get credit for that activity; plus it will make practice edits more of a group activity.
  • Plagiarism: Plagiarism means using other people's work as if it were your own. In this course, it also means having someone write or edit your work for you. Plagiarism is unethical and will not be tolerated. If I detect plagiarism on any of your assignments, you will receive a zero for your grade. More than one instance of plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course.
  • Withdrawals & incompletes. If you fall behind in the course and miss more than two consecutive assignments, I will withdraw you from the class. Incompletes will only be granted if you have an emergency and have only the last writing project remaining to complete.
  • Production of written assignments: Please use one of the mainstream word-processing software packages (such as Word, WordPerfect, FrameMaker) to produce writing assignments for this course. If you are not familiar with this level of software, use this class to become familiar with them. If I have any problem receiving files that you transmit as an attachment to an e-mail message, I will notify you as soon as possible.
  • Use of computer hardware and software: You need not own a computer or have word-processing software such as Word, WordPerfect, PageMaker, FrameMaker. However, you will need to produce professional-looking documents for this course and you should have access to one in order to complete the assignments that will be turned in for grades or for practice.
  • Computer knowledge: You do not need to have anything more than a general end-user familiarity with computers to do well in this course.
  • Disabilities: Students needing an alternate mode of instruction, performance, or testing should contact the instructor about these needs in the first week of the semester.

Information and programs provided by