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 assess and improve such texts efficiently and effectively. 

You’ll work on your own, in pairs and as a group to analyse the stylistic problems of different types of text, look at a range of solutions and adjust presentation and organisation to guarantee effective communication.

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 that you can use to tackle future problems.

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, who are comfortable with the basic copy-editing process but who want to extend their skills or who need to rewrite text.

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
  • Identifying problems and considering solutions 
  • Adjusting the level of a piece of writing
  • Maintaining the author’s voice
  • Pooling strategies for longer texts
  • Pros and cons of bullet points
  • Approaches to cutting text
  • Editing text written in English as a second language
  • Considering jargon and specialist vocabulary 
  • Final discussion and queries


+ How the course is delivered

The course consists of four x 90-minute sessions, each a mixture of delivery and interaction using Zoom breakout rooms and other online tools. There will be 30-minute breaks between each session 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.

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

+ Delegate feedback

“Having never had formal instruction in editing, I valued the validation and reassurance that, broadly speaking, I do things ‘the right way’. Andrew was great: laid back and a lot of fun, but easily able to take us through topics and invite responses from the class – and full of useful and amusing editing anecdotes."  Editor, John Catt Educational

“It was great to learn practical ways of moving past the 'this is a mess' stage when editing text that needs a lot of work. Andrew was a great teacher – well-prepared patient and knowledgeable.”  Editor, Natural History Museum

“An enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking day. I will certainly recommend this course to colleagues and students!”  Freelance Editor and Editorial Trainer

The feedback is for the classroom version of the course.

+ About the tutor

andrew steeds2020

Originally a secondary teacher of English, Andrew Steeds became a copy-editor at educational publisher Thomas Nelson in the 1980s, following a short spell in educational research. He worked on the English and modern languages lists, becoming a commissioning editor for English and drama before leaving to take up similar positions at Macmillan and Hodder & Stoughton.

The publishing world fell into one of its periods of turbulence in the early 1990s. With a freelance career looking marginally more secure, Andrew left Hodder to set himself up independently in 1991. He hasn't looked back.

Andrew’s main area of interest has become the clarification of unnecessarily complicated documents, in terms of how they are written and designed. In Simply Put and the Writing Clinic (which he set up as a virtual co-operative), he works on his own, with designers and with others to enable clients to communicate more clearly and more efficiently with their readers.

For more information about any of these courses, please email or sign up to receive our newsletter for updates on these and our other offerings. 

Please read our Terms & Conditions
Session 1: 29 October 2020 | Session 2: 4 November 2020 (mornings only)
Thursday, 29 October 2020
A number of discounts are available

Course format

  • Virtual classroom
  • 9am to 12.30pm (BST)
  • Four x 1.5 hour sessions plus breaks, comprising two half-day sessions on two days, one week apart


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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Anything else you'd like to tell us? If you've been issued with a voucher from the Publishing Training Centre and you'd like to use it with this booking, or you'd like to book more than four people on this course, let us know here. Alternatively, you can email us directly at

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