Rewriting and Substantive Editing (Non-Fiction)


Some content requires more than just a quick copy-edit . . .

This course combines practical exercises with group discussion and will help you feel more confident about your ability to sort out texts that pose more than ‘standard’ problems. 

You’ll work on your own, in pairs and as a group to analyse the problems of different types of text, look at a range of solutions and consider how best to apply these solutions while keeping your writers on board.

Between the two sessions you will be asked to look at a longer piece of writing and assess how you would set about editing or rewriting it.

The result? New skills and techniques – and increased confidence in your ability to apply them. 

Please note that almost all the example texts are drawn from non-fiction or educational publishing; this course is unlikely to meet the needs of someone who works exclusively on fiction. 

Who is it for?

Editorial staff and freelancers, working on non-fiction or transactional writing, who are comfortable with the basic copy-editing process but who want to extend their skills and to rewrite with greater confidence.

What will you achieve?

On completing this course you’ll be able to:

  • assess and explain why a piece of writing doesn’t work
  • develop and present strategies for improving pieces of writing
  • adjust the level and tone of a piece of writing
  • apply the techniques learnt to any text to make it clearer and more accessible


Session 1

  • Examining what rewriting is, what it involves and some of the issues it presents
  • Deciding when texts need more intense intervention
  • Identifying problems and considering solutions
  • Maintaining the author’s voice
  • Adjusting the level of a piece of writing
  • Considering jargon and specialist vocabulary 

Session 2

  • Pooling strategies for longer texts
  • Pros and cons of bullet points
  • Approaches to cutting text
  • Editing text written in English as a second language
  • Keeping the author on board
  • Final discussion and queries

There are also two tasks to work on between the two sessions.


How the course is delivered

The course consists of four sessions, each a mixture of delivery and interaction using Zoom breakout rooms and other online tools. There will be 15-minute breaks between sessions with the opportunity to do exercises and take a break. The course will run on the same day across two weeks, split into two half-day sessions in the morning from 9am to 12.30pm.

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

“The content struck a good balance between being accessible and challenging while Andrew's delivery was engaging and empathetic. I gained a lot of insight into how editing in the publishing industry differs from that in the media industry (and where there is overlap). The advice was very practical and I have come away with a clear list of things to look out for, considerations to make and techniques to employ when editing and rewriting copy.” Freelance journalist

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and teaching style. It gave me a wealth of guidance to consider when addressing large-scale issues in a piece of writing, such as relevancy, structure, and style. Each exercise concentrated on a different element of substantive editing, and the facilitator was motivating and engaging. I'd recommend this course to any editor who works with macro revisions and wants a refresh or confidence boost, and to any copy-editor who wants to learn more about big-picture editing.” Jasmine, Information and Publications Editor, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England

“I’ve gained an understanding of how to approach difficult text evaluations/rewrites, and confidence in my ability to do so.” Osprey Publishing delegate

“I really enjoyed the course. There was a good balance of breakout rooms and individual tasks, and Andrew was good at drawing everyone into discussion on Zoom. There were also a variety of good example texts to work with. It has made me think about texts from different angles, and reignited my interest in editing long-form text.” Imagine Learning Studios delegate

“There was a good balance of delivery and activities. I have a greater understanding of rewriting and substantive editing, brilliant resources to refer to, and useful tips to apply when developing copy.” Assistant Editor, Royal Society of Chemistry

“I really enjoyed the course and am keen to do another with a focus on fiction. I have a greater understanding of how to approach non-fiction texts and the key things to look out for when assessing different types of non-fiction texts.” Audible UK delegate

“The course was excellent. I’ve learned how to edit texts and remove unnecessary words to make it more interesting for the reader.” Curriculum Coordinator, Tanzania Institute of Education

“Andrew was excellent and his teaching style engaging. An immediate take-out is learning to be cut-throat sometimes.” Assistant Editor, Jessica Kingsley Publishers

“An excellent course. It covered a lot and I have a better understanding of what is involved in developmental editing. I wouldn't change anything. Freelance Copyeditor, Maggie Reid Editing


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.

Session 1: 20 June | Session 2: 27 June (mornings only)


Thursday, 20 June 2024

Thursday, 21 November 2024

A number of discounts are available

Course format

  • Virtual classroom
  • 9am to 12.30pm 
  • Four sessions plus breaks, comprising two half-day sessions on two days, one week apart

Date information for future sessions

June 2024

  • Dates: 20 & 27 June 
  • Times: Each session will run from 9.00am to 12.30pm 

November 2024

  • Dates: 21 & 28 November 
  • Times: Each session will run from 9.00am to 12.30pm 

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 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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