Copy Editing

Copy editing makes a good publication better. A copy editor can improve any document by eliminating errors, addressing grammar problems, and ensuring consistent style. This course is for people who want to develop the skills that professional copy editors need.

Topics include assessing your copy editing aptitude, using editing marks, watching for mistakes in spelling and punctuation, striving for accuracy, preparing style sheets, and electronic copy editing. You’ll have the opportunity to complete assignments based on non-fiction book excerpts, journal articles, newsletters, and other print material.

The final examination for this course is due two weeks after the course ends (20 days after the last date listed in the schedule).

Instructional hours: 15


Location: Online
Format: Self-paced within deadlines set by instructor
Duration: 5 weeks
Tuition: $555
Can be applied to:
Editing Certificate
Plain Language Certificate

Upcoming Offerings

Register for a course at any time, with the option to apply to a program later.

Start Date
Seats Available
Start DateWed, Mar 8, 2023
  • Wed, Mar 8 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 15 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 22 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Mar 29 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Apr 5 (self-paced all week)
InstructorRowena Rae
Seats Available12
Start DateWed, May 10, 2023
  • Wed, May 10 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, May 17 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, May 24 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, May 31 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jun 7 (self-paced all week)
InstructorJudy Phillips
Seats Available25
Start DateWed, Jun 14, 2023
  • Wed, Jun 14 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jun 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jun 28 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jul 5 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Jul 12 (self-paced all week)
InstructorNick Rockel
Seats Available25
Start DateWed, Sep 13, 2023
  • Wed, Sep 13 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Sep 20 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Sep 27 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Oct 4 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Oct 11 (self-paced all week)
Seats Available25
Start DateWed, Oct 25, 2023
  • Wed, Oct 25 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Nov 1 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Nov 8 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Nov 15 (self-paced all week)
  • Wed, Nov 22 (self-paced all week)
Seats Available24

What you will learn

At the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the stages in the editorial process, including the place and responsibilities of the copy editor
  • Estimate how long it will take to copy edit a document
  • Copy edit a simple document
  • Identify and correct common errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, usage, mechanics, style and content
  • Use editing symbols to mark copy and explain why they are important
  • Develop and follow editorial style and query sheets, and explain why they are important
  • Use the Microsoft Word track changes function to edit onscreen

How you will learn and be evaluated

Prepare to spend 6–10 hours per week on coursework, including:

  • Readings
  • Online discussions
  • Practical exercises

You will be evaluated on:

  • Participation in discussions
  • Quizzes
  • Assignment
  • Final examination (due two weeks after course ends)

Learning Materials

No textbook is required. We will provide all course materials online.

Recommended reading:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0226287058

Note: Courses use the author-date style from the Chicago/Turabian (17th ed.) citation guide.

Once you begin the course you’ll be sent SFU library access information for this text. Alternatively, you may wish to access a 30-day free trial of the online version of Chicago Manual of Style.

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.

This course requires:

  • Microsoft Word 2010 or newer (neither Google Docs nor Pages is adequate) and being comfortable with Track Changes function
  • A printer
  • A scanner or camera to create a digital copy of editing examples to be submitted for one of the assignments
  • High-speed internet access
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

Assignments may require familiarity with the following MS Word features:

English language requirements

To succeed in this course, you will need an advanced level of written and spoken English. If you are unsure whether your English language skills are sufficient, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following minimums:

  • Overall band score minimum 6.5
  • No band below 6.0
  • Writing band score minimum 8.0

Please note we can’t refund your registration fees after the course start date if you find your English language skills are not adequate.

If you have questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact your local IELTS Test Centre.