Grammar and Punctuation - the basics



People hold widely divergent views on grammar and punctuation. Some believe in time-honoured ‘rules’, and feel that they should be observed in all circumstances. Others question the legitimacy of these rules, believing that language changes and that what was ‘right’ for one generation isn’t necessarily right for the next.

As an editor or a writer, how do you find your own position on this contentious subject? How do you gain confidence in your ability to argue the case for your editorial decisions, particularly against people who might take a completely different position from you?

For many people working in the publishing and communications industries, this is even more challenging because they are unlikely to have been taught about these issues at school. This short course will look at some of the core issues relating to grammar and punctuation. It will give you an understanding of the various positions taken on them – and the confidence to make your own decisions, based on the kinds of text you’re working on and the readers you are trying to reach.

Who is it for?

  • Anyone working in the publishing or communications industries who wants to improve their grammar and punctuation
  • In-house and freelance editors, copywriters and project managers
  • People who feel they lack confidence in their judgements on these issues and in their ability to defend their editorial and stylistic decisions

What will you achieve?

On completing this course you will gain:

  • a clearer understanding of the main issues surrounding grammar and punctuation
  • more confidence in your ability to make, and defend, decisions on grammar and punctuation
  • knowledge of where to go to get answers that work for you

You will also receive a set of reference materials to consult in your day-to-day work.


Pre- and post-course material

You will be sent extensive pre-course and post-course material. The first will provide background terminology and basic concepts before the course. The second will give guidance and recommendations following the course.


Activities will cover most elements on the programme. These will be done individually, in breakout rooms, or as a group.

  • A brief introduction to grammar and punctuation
  • What is, and what is not, a sentence?
  • Why are verbs so important?
  • What’s the issue behind ‘that’ and ‘which’?
  • What do you do? How hard and fast are those hard and fast rules, and what other rules might there be?
  • With punctuation, which are rules and which are guidelines or discretionary choices, often enshrined in house styles?


How the course is delivered

The course consists of two x 90-minute sessions, each a mixture of delivery and interaction using Zoom breakout rooms and other online tools. There will be a 30-minute break between sessions with the opportunity to do exercises and take a break. 

You will need to activate a free Zoom account to join the course. This takes two minutes and does not require any payment. It is purely for administrative purposes.

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

“Andrew is a very good, natural trainer, who includes everyone, and keeps it light and funny yet communicates a lot of well-structured information. I am no longer agonising about 'that' and 'which', and understand restrictive and non-restrictive clauses much better in more complicated sentences.” Freelance translator, copy-editor and proofreader

“Andrew Steeds is a fabulous teacher. He is so knowledgeable, full of energy and has a great sense of humour. I greatly appreciate that he gave us so much material and that we may still submit our exercises to him or ask him questions now that the seminar is over. I have more clarity and self-confidence and helpful notes and examples for future reference.” Independent Editor/Proofreader & Translator

"I very much enjoyed this course. The teacher was engaging and friendly, with loads of experience and knowledge. I've gained clarification of some of the differences between UK and US English." Freelance proofreader

About the tutor

andrew steeds2020

After an early career in teaching, educational research and educational publishing, Andrew Steeds went freelance, setting up Simply Put, a company focused on making unnecessarily complicated documents clearer and more accessible, in terms of both how they are written and how they are designed. For Simply Put, he works on his own, with designers and with others to support clients to communicate more clearly and more efficiently with their readers.

Andrew has been running courses for the Publishing Training Centre (PTC) for 25 years. His main focus is on editorial activity, but he has an equal interest in the process of writing and the presentation skills of grammar and punctuation, and he runs courses in these areas, too. The PTC’s Essential Grammar, an e-learning resource which he wrote in 2017, has so far had just under 2,000 student enrolments on the course.

He divides his training time equally between in-company work and open courses.

Next session: 12 September 2024 | 9am-1.00pm


Thursday, 12 September 2024

A number of discounts are available

Date information for future sessions

September 2024

  • Date: 12 September 2024
  • Times: Each session will run from 9.00am to 1.00pm 

Course format

  • Virtual classroom
  • 9am to 1.00pm 
  • Two x 1.5 hour sessions plus break

A number of discounts are available

Enrol on this course

What you will need

To join the course, you will need access to a computer, tablet or laptop with a camera and microphone. You will need to activate a free Zoom account to join the course. This takes two minutes and does not require any payment. It is purely for administrative purposes.





Enrol on this course

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