Basic Editing: Editorial Skills Two

This foundational distance learning course trains you to work effectively as a Copy-editor to prepare documents for publication. Basic Editing is an online course using Microsoft Word on-screen to complete the exercises and assignments.

Basic Editing assumes prior acquisition of proofreading skills, and experience in applying them.

What is copy-editing?

The role of the copy-editor is to make the author’s message clear and accessible for the readers and to mark up documents for typesetting. That might sound simple, but it’s a complex job, involving an understanding of not only language and grammar but also production processes, typography and design conventions, and the extent – and limits – of responsibility and authority of each person involved in the process. It requires an enquiring mind, attention to detail, organisation and good communication skills.

Learning outcomes

At the end of Basic Editing you will be able to:

  • use basic copy-editing skills to work on fiction and non-fiction, and on many styles of text and websites
  • use the particular aspects of copy-editing that are relevant mainly to books and journals, giving you the tools needed to work in either field
  • work on-screen and on paper

How does the course work?

Basic Editing is delivered online giving you instant access to all course materials. You will be able to read the course notes on-screen, print them off, or save them to your desktop or other reading device. 

The exercises and assignments are Microsoft Word documents to be completed on-screen and submitted as a digital file for marking and commentary.

The course comprises an introduction and four units. Each unit contains a number of self-check exercises plus an assignment that you send to the PTC for your tutor to mark.

It is possible, though not recommended, to follow a printed version of the course. The exercises and assignments are completed on paper and submitted by post for marking and commentary.

If you have already enrolled on this course and wish to access your course materials, please log in to our learning site and select the course from the 'My courses and resources' list.

Payment Options

Basic Editing costs £445 (online edition - recommended). It is possible to pay for the course in three instalments. The first instalment of £215 is payable on enrolment. The second and third instalments of £115 each will be automatically collected between the tenth and fifteenth of the following two months.

The printed and posted version of the course costs £490. The first instalment in this case is £260. Second and third instalments as above.

Have a look through our Frequently Asked Questions for more information. 

If, once you have completed this course, you want to extend your skills, we recommend that you study Intermediate Editing by Distance Learning. You may also want to have a look at our Successful Editorial Freelancing by Distance Learning course.

How to Enrol

To enrol, you need to click on the Add to Cart button on this page. You will be asked to register (if you have not already done so). You will, at that point, be able to pay immediately by credit/debit card, request a pro-forma invoice or download and complete a “fillable” PDF enrolment form. This form can be emailed to or posted to the Publishing Training Centre, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR.

Money back guarantee

If, within 30 days of registering for the course, and before any assignments have been marked, you decide that the course is not for you, simply contact us to discuss cancelling the course and to receive a full refund.

Important note:

You must complete the course within 12 months of enrolment or, if you wish to continue the course, you can study for a further 12 months following payment of an extension fee. Any further extensions are at the discretion of The Publishing Training Centre.

What is Included?

Course materials

This is a thorough and up-to-date editing course, which covers the basic skills required across the entire copy-editing process. It is an online course and so, after completing the enrolment process, you will be sent an email with directions to the online learning platform and an activation key, giving you access to all the course materials.

If you choose the printed version a starter pack comprising Units 1 & 2 of the course materials will be posted to you. Subsequent units are delivered as you work through the course.

NB not included: In addition to having access to a computer, with internet access, a copy of Microsoft Word 2007 (or later) or Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac (or later) is required to complete this course.

Your own tutor

When you submit your first assignment, a tutor will be assigned to you. All tutors on the Basic Editing course either are or have been working editors with many years' publishing experience.


On successful completion of the course, you will receive a certificate, indicating the level of pass you have achieved. If you are an SfEP member, the course is worth between 10 and 20 points (depending on your grade) towards upgrading your membership. You will also be eligible to enter your details on The Publishing Training Centre's Freelance Finder.

Who is it for?

Who will benefit from the course?

  • editorial staff in publishing houses
  • freelance proofreaders interested in editing

What qualifications do I need?

No specific qualifications are required, but you should have an understanding of proofreading symbols and principles. Understanding the publishing process would also be an advantage. You will also need:

  • an eye for detail
  • the ability to concentrate
  • a good command of UK English grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • good general knowledge and an enquiring mind.

About the Author

Barbara Horn's career in publishing spans more than forty years. Beginning as a copy-editor in educational publishing, she later worked in trade publishing and packaging, eventually leaving her job as Editorial Director of an illustrated books division to work freelance as an editor, project manager and consultant. She began her work as a trainer at the London School of Publishing (LSP), which she co-founded in 1983. After selling LSP in 1986, Barbara created and tutored courses at The Publishing Training Centre, the Scottish Publishers Association (now Publishing Scotland), Clé (now Publishing Ireland), and companies and institutions throughout the UK and in China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore and Spain. She has also been a guest lecturer at West Herts College, Oxford Brookes, and the Centre for Publishing at Stirling University, and has run workshops at the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) conferences.

Nominated by the SfEP to the Graphic Technology Committee at the British Standards Institution, Barbara managed the revision of the British Standard of Marks for Copy Preparation and Proof Correction, BS 5261: 2005. As part of the British delegation to the ISO Technical Committee for Graphic Technology, Barbara was the convenor of the working group on terminology and initiated the revision of the International Standard for Proof Correction Marks, ISO 5776.


Barbara was made an Honorary Member of the SfEP in 2010.

* Course Type:

Study Time

At least 40 hours over 12 months

Special Offer

Good grammar is essential for a copy-editor. We strongly recommend that you also work through Grammar at Work. This normally costs £60, but if booked with the Basic Editing course, the price is reduced to £30.

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The Publishing Training Centre is a registered charity. Registered name: The Publishing Training Centre Foundation, a company limited by guarantee incorporated in England and Wales.
Registration number: 1253854. Registered office: 16 High Holborn, London WC1V 6BX. Tel: +44 (0)20 8874 2718