Advanced Copy-Editing


Copy-editing is more than mastering the technicalities and following the ‘rules’. This class teaches critical skills for planning and carrying out an edit, drawing on demanding texts to explore issues of structure, clarity and consistent treatment.

Because the workshop teaches higher-level editorial thinking rather than technical skills, exercises are presented on paper, but all sessions assume that participants are working on screen, preparing text in Word for onward transmission to a designer and/or typesetter.

Who is it for?

Editors working in-house in academic or trade non-fiction publishing, whether editing text themselves or briefing and managing freelancers. You will have undertaken basic training or have at least a year’s experience on the job, and will already have a good grounding in editorial decision-making.


What will you achieve?

On completing the course you will know how to:

  • take control of a text from the start and produce a well-finished edit
  • construct a coherent framework for the logical delivery of ideas
  • keep watch on factual and narrative integrity
  • interpret and clarify meaning
  • maintain editorial consistency
  • play your part in the publishing process


Editing a book: the challenges and pitfalls. In an open discussion we consider the demands and difficulties we all experience in tackling a large-scale edit.

How to begin: overview, planning and work order. Despite the temptation to ‘get started’, you will be in control of the edit only if you survey the material first, uncover its shortcomings and decide how to set about working through the text systematically.

The argument: structure and features. At the highest level, the coherent delivery of the author’s ideas depends on structural elements such as headings, boxes, lists, quotations and other recurring features. We consider both the editorial and design issues posed by these features.

The content: resolving discrepancy. The detection of real or apparent contradictions in factual content is a key responsibility of the copy-editor. This calls for good long-term memory and deep reading on your part, to make sure that the text ‘adds up’.

The writing: clarity and economy. There’s a fine line between reworking text because ‘I think it sounds better like this’ and usefully tackling verbose or confusing writing. We try to define the ‘right’ level of intervention and investigate how to clarify the text without alienating the author.

Presentation: editorial style. Decision-making in the area of editorial style is a nuanced skill rather than a mechanical process. The approach to issues such as hyphenation, capitalisation and punctuation should be rational and well integrated. The forms of words should never obtrude.

Process: working with others. As the copy-editor, you are part of the network of people involved in the publishing process. In a brief session, we summarise colleagues’ needs, interests and responsibilities so that we can play our part efficiently.

Roundup and review: The day ends with a chance to reflect on what we have learned and to share observations with one another.

How the course is delivered

The course is delivered as a one-day workshop, in person, on the company’s premises, customised to meet the company’s training objectives, and using texts appropriate to its publishing programme or based on its materials. You will learn through working a range of specially prepared exercises, small-group and plenary discussion, and question-and-answer sessions, guided and supported by the tutor. The course content is summarised in a series of short handouts and examples, circulated electronically afterwards, for future use and adaptation without restriction.

Any information to be completed beforehand will be sent via email.


Please contact us at with any accessibility or special requirements, for example having in-session captions or the learning materials sent to you in advance.

If you have any concerns about technical requirements or access please contact us on  or telephone (+44) 020 8874 2718.

Delegate feedback

“Rosemary was very clear and the information useful. It was great that the tasks were based on our own work – which really helps to see how the information will help us going forward. The diagnostic tool is definitely something I will start using from now on.” Lead Editorial Officer, WJEC

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course. Immediate benefits include the importance of specifying job roles and responsibilities to avoid work crossover/duplication; the value of cross-departmental communication; how line editing can be a valuable first point of call; that ongoing author engagement is vital for the success of the project; and we can only do so much with the content provided.” WJEC delegate

“I have gained an understanding of all aspects of copy-editing and further confidence in my work  including whether to change things or to leave things as they are.” WJEC delegate

“I enjoyed the course a lot and have gained a deeper understanding of the copy-editing process. Penguin Random House delegate

About the tutor

Rosemary RobertsRosemary Roberts' first job was as an editor on Grove’s Dictionaries of Music, which launched her career in academic and reference publishing. After four years as a lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University, she became chief copy-editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – for which, in 2005, she was awarded an MBE. She became managing editor at Thames & Hudson in 2007, where she gained experience of trade publishing.

She now works as a freelance editor, and as a teacher of copy-editing, proofreading and freelance management for PTC and corporate clients.

How to book

Please contact us at courses@publishing to request an in-company quote

Course format

In-person only, one full working day, including breaks