Tip of the week: Copyeditor training, part 1
If you’ve ever wondered where you could get copyediting training, this article is for you.
One question I’m asked frequently is “Where can I find copyeditor training?” Aside from Copyediting’s audio conferences and On-Demand Training courses, you actually have quite a few options. Today, I’ll focus on courses and certificate programs, and next week I’ll look at other options.
Those looking for copyeditor training often ask veteran editors whether they need a certificate. Strictly speaking, a certificate isn’t necessary. There’s no governing body of copyeditors that ensures all copyeditors are uniformly trained. (Maybe there should be.)
You might want a copyediting certificate, however, if you’ve never formally studied language or writing. It’s true, your ear can guide you in a lot of decisions, but it’s not the same as knowing why something is wrong and how to fix it. A copyediting program should give you enough training to know what’s wrong, how to fix it, and, perhaps most important, how to explain your changes to an irate author.
A certificate program may also be a good marketing tool for you. Some employers and clients, particularly those who are unsure about what a copyeditor does, are reassured by an institution’s certification of your skills. Bragging rights are not to be taken lightly, particularly in this economy.
Many universities and colleges offer certificate programs in their professional development schools. There are also some professional organizations that have programs worth considering. I periodically teach at the University of California San Diego’s Extension School (USCDX) so I may be biased about its program, but I do believe it gives you a thorough understanding of copyediting as well as training in starting up a freelance business. UCSDX makes thorough use of The Copyeditor’s Handbook, too, which I reviewed last week. Other worthwhile programs are listed in this Certificates in Copyediting collection on Delicious.
If you decide a certificate program is for you, make sure it covers the following:
- Mechanical editing: grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, etc.
- Content editing: logic, syntax, structure, etc.
- Author-editor relationship
- Creating and use of style sheets
- A style manual
Maybe, though, you don’t want a whole program, just a course or two to fill in knowledge gaps or refresh your skill set. You’ll definitely have more options to choose from. Start by checking out the courses within those certificate programs; you may find what you need right there. But also check out editing organizations, such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), which don’t offer certificates but do offer some excellent training opportunities. The EFA offers online and offline courses and is always interested in what copyeditors and future copyeditors want to learn. There are more course offerings listed in the Copyeditor Training Courses bundle.
Online or in-person courses?
Which is better: online or in-person courses? It really depends on what’s available in your area and your learning style. If you live in or near a midsize-to-large city, chances are you can find in-person courses that offer what you’re looking for. Even if no one near you offers a certificate program, you may be able to find the right combination of courses from different institutions to create your own program. If there aren’t any courses available near you, you’ll want to look at online courses.
Online learning is terrific for those comfortable with e-mail, electronic tests, and forums. You can download the lessons at your leisure, participating in discussions on your own time, wherever you are. However, note that the only opportunity you’ll have to connect with fellow classmates is through your class’s forums. I had one student in my online course last spring who struggled because she didn’t feel connected to the other students or to me. She did well enough in the course, but she would have had an easier time in a traditional classroom, where she was more comfortable.
What programs or courses would you recommend for copyeditors and future copyeditors? Share your recommendations in the comments section below!