Essential Copy-Editing: Editorial Skills Two

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Essential Copy-Editing is an up to date, computer-based course that covers the entire copy-editing process. It trains you to work effectively as a copy-editor to prepare documents for publication. The early units equip you with the fundamental skills and theoretical knowledge you need. Units 5 to 7 build on these skills to give you the experience to tackle more complex material and challenging editorial tasks.


Essential Copy-Editing is an online course using Microsoft Word on-screen to complete the exercises and assignments.

The course assumes prior acquisition of proofreading skills, and experience in applying them.

What is copy-editing?


Copy-editing is the process of preparing a document for publication. The role of the copy-editor is to make the author’s message clear and accessible to readers and to mark up the manuscript for the typesetter. It’s a complex job, which requires an understanding of not just language and grammar but also production processes, typography and design conventions. It covers the structure, organisation and writing style of the text, as well as legal issues, such as copyright and libel. 

 Five reasons to choose Essential Copy-Editing

  1. PTC is widely recognised by publishers and beyond
  2. Cover the requirements of the wider business world as well as publishing
  3. Have the support of a personal tutor at every stage of assessment
  4. Learn and practise with 36 self-check exercises
  5. Benefit from the most widely recognised industry qualification 

This course contributes to PUB 14 and PUB 19 of the Book & Journal Publishing National Occupational Standards.

Learning outcomes

At the end of Essential Copy-Editing you will be able to:

  • use fundamental 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
  • manage more complex non-fiction projects
  • deal efficiently with detailed tables, technical drawings, figures and endmatter
  • brief an illustrator and editor

How does the course work?

Each unit contains a number of self-check exercises plus a longer assignment that you send to your tutor, who will mark it and provide you with the feedback you need to progress to the next unit. Each assignment tests the knowledge you have gained and skills you have developed in the unit that you have just completed, and reinforces what you learned in preceding units. The final assignment is thus also a consolidation exercise, testing the skills you have acquired throughout the course.

Only the assignments will count towards your final grade, but, where appropriate, your tutor will also give you feedback on the self-check exercises, ensuring that you have fully understood the learning points from each unit and can apply what you’ve learned.

Course materials are accessed through the PTC's online learning platform. Your exercises and assignments will be completed on-screen in Microsoft Word and submitted by email. Marked assignments and tutor feedback will be emailed back to you.
In addition to a computer with internet access, MS Word 2007 (or later) or MS Word 2008 for Mac (or later) is required these courses.

Payment Options

Essential Copy-Editing costs £495. You can pay for the course in three instalments: the first instalment of £215 is payable on enrolment; the second and third instalments of £140 each will be automatically collected between the 10th and 15th of the following two months.

You can opt to receive a printed copy of the module chapters for £30, payable on enrolment. These may be useful for reference, but the printed modules do not include the exercises and assignments, which must be completed via the online learning platform.

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


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.

Money back guarantee

If, within 30 days of receiving your course materials (and before any assignments have been sent to your tutor for marking), you decide that the course is not for you, simply let us know to receive a full refund. Your access to the learning platform will cease once your refund is confirmed.

Important note:

You must complete the course within 18 months of enrolment or, if you wish to continue the course beyond this period, you can study for a further 18 months following payment of a re-registration fee. Any further extensions are at the discretion of The Publishing Training Centre.

What is Included?

Course Materials

Full access to the PTC's online learning platform where you will find all the materials you need to complete the course. Downloadable materials mean you can practise your new skills as many times as you need to feel confident that you have mastered them.

Your own tutor

Each student is assigned an experienced proofreader as a tutor who will support you through the course and for up to three months after completion.


 Upon successfully completing the course you will receive:

• A completion certificate from PQB showing whether you have achieved a pass, merit or distinction in your work.

• An entry in the PTC’s Freelance Finder – the listing can be used by companies when they are looking to employ freelancers.

• SfEP points – passing this course is worth 10 - 20 points towards upgrading your SfEP membership.


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, and experience in applying, 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.

* Payment Options:

Printed Manual:

Special Offer:

Study Time

At least 70 hours and up to 18 months to complete

Special Offer

Good grammar is essential for a copy-editor. We strongly recommend you also work through Essential Grammar. This normally costs £70 but if booked at the same time as Essential Copy-Editing the price is reduced to £35.

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Copyright © 2014 The Publishing Training Centre, 6 Bell Yard, London, WC2A 2JR
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