Course Title: Develop writing and editing skills

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2008

Course Code: COMM5397

Course Title: Develop writing and editing skills

School: 345T Creative Media

Campus: City Campus

Program: C4171 - Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing

Course Contact : Program Administration

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4815

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Penny Johnson
Building 94, level 2, room 6
23–27 Cardigan Street, South Carlton
9925 4383 (phone); 9925 4362 (fax)

Stephanie Holt
Building 94, level 2, room 6
23–27 Cardigan Street, South Carlton
9925 8089 (phone); 9925 4362 (fax)

Kirsty Elliott
Building 94, level 2, room 6
23–27 Cardigan Street, South Carlton
9925 4587 (phone); 9925 4362 (fax)

Nominal Hours: 120

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

This course develops your writing and editing skills in a professional context. It introduces you to the publishing process and emphasises the roles, responsibilities and relationships of authors and editors. The course contains a detailed study of English spelling, vocabulary, grammar and syntax, and of paragraphs. You also analyse and assess writing from a range of styles and for different audiences.
The course also focuses on punctuation and style issues, as well as copyediting and proofreading. You learn editing and proofreading mark-up and technique, and handle proofs with numerous design features.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

VBP551 Develop writing and editing skills


 Apply the accepted conventions of grammar and usage to a range of written contexts

Performance Criteria:

3.1    The conventions of grammar and syntax in written English are analysed
3.2    Words and their meanings are appropriate for the writings
3.3    The conventions governing the expression of numerical data are demonstrated
3.4    The conventions governing the use of quoted material is demonstrated
3.5    The conventions governing the display of illustrations and tables is demonstrated
3.6    The conventions for expressing specialised and foreign material are demonstrated, where necessary


 Apply the appropriate voice and tone

Performance Criteria:

2.1    The type of authorial voice/s appropriate to the publication are determined and applied to writings
2.2    The language requirements of the publication are analysed and demonstrated in writings
2.3    The language requirements of the readership are devised and incorporated into writings
2.4    Consistency of tone is maintained in writings
2.5    Text is monitored for non-inclusive or potentially offensive language


 Ensure the clarity of language

Performance Criteria:

1.1    The principles of clear language are applied to writings
1.2    Ambiguity, repetition and verbosity are avoided in writings
1.3    Clear and logical connections between phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and sections are made
1.4    Punctuation is used to ensure clarity of meaning and ease of reading


Use correct spelling and punctuation

Performance Criteria:

4.1    Australian spelling and punctuation conventions are demonstrated in writings
4.2    Alternative spelling and punctuation conventions are applied when appropriate

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
• understand the book publishing process and the role of the editor
• apply the fundamentals of English grammar, spelling and vocabulary to a range of written contexts
• use reference tools with confidence, including style manuals and dictionaries
• critique short pieces of fiction and non-fiction according to principles of genre, audience, style and clarity
• communicate effectively in editorial report writing and in author–editor relationships
• apply punctuation correctly and for effect
• use the publishing industry’s technical language and its copyediting and proofreading marks
• edit short pieces of fiction and non-fiction according to principles of genre, audience, style and clarity
• edit and communicate research through delivery of a class talk.

Details of Learning Activities

Students learn through a variety of methods. Classes are, in general, a mixture of lectures, discussion, practical exercises and group work. Students also teach one another by presenting class papers and conducting discussion on the presentation topic. Some class time in Semester 2 is given over to completing a collaborative editing project, and industry guests will speak about professional practice. The Editing 1 website on Blackboard will also provide information, resources, activities and web links to support students in their learning. Students are responsible for managing their learning and undertaking an appropriate amount of out-of-class independent study and research.

Teaching Schedule

Semester 1

1Orientation Week
2Course introduction
Class talk: Introduction
Role of the editor
3Class talk: Organise time slots
Language: Spelling and tautologies
The production process
4Class talk: Research and presentation tips
Language: Word confusions
5Grammar: Introduction and nouns
Text analysis: Non-fiction
6Grammar: Possession
Text analysis: Fiction
7Grammar: Test revision
Effective communication
Editorial report writing
9Grammar: Subjects, objects and complements
Editorial report writing
10Grammar: Finite verbs
11Grammar: Non-finite verbs
12Grammar: Pronouns and Agreement
[Homework: Adjectives, adverbs, determiners, prepositions]
13Grammar: Conjunctions, clauses and phrases
14Grammar: Misplaced, dangling and squinting modifiers
Grammar revision and practice test
16[Copyright class]
17Introduction to Major Editing Project
Guest speaker/s
18Semester review

Semester 2

1Style: Introduction to house style
Style: Capitals
2Style: Capitals, italics and titles
3Punctuation: Commas, semi-colons and colons
4Punctuation: Hyphens, ens and ems
5Punctuation: Quotation marks – fiction and non-fiction conventions
6Punctuation: Lists, shortened forms and remaining punctuation issues
Test Revision: Punctuation
Editing symbols and mark-up technique for text and structure
8Editing fiction
Major Project: Project requirement
9Editing non-fiction
Major Project: Style sheet
10Style: Numbers
Major Project: Author queries
11Major Project: Revision and in-class editing
12Major Project: First author–editor meetings Proofreading: Proofreading symbols and mark-up technique
13Proofreading: Proofreading technique
Major Project: Second author–editor meetings
14Proofreading: Design and typography
Major Project: Author–editor sign-off
15Proofreading: Page proofing terminology
Role of the designer: guest speaker
16Proofreading: Illustrations and figures
Test Revision: Proofreading
18Semester review

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Editing 1 Grammar Unit Handbook 

Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edn, John Wiley & Sons, 2002

The Concise Macquarie Dictionary, 4th edn, Macquarie Library, Sydney, 2006 OR The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 4th edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2004


Other Resources

Students will receive additional handouts in class.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment includes a written report, an editing project, in-class tests and an oral presentation.

Assessment Tasks

Students will receive a numerical grade for their overall achievement in this competency.

For written and oral assessments students will receive a letter grade and written feedback. Tests will be given numerical grades.


High Distinction  HD    80–100%
Distinction  DI    70–79%
Credit  CR    60–69%
Pass  PA    50–59%
Fail  NN    Less than 50%

Class Presentation

A 10-minute presentation on an aspect of editing, publishing, writing or the English language. The presentation should be relevant to a publishing context, and to you and your classmates as people who will be working as editors or writers being edited.

Due date
In either Semester 1 or 2, on a date negotiated with your teacher.

Percentage weight

Assessment criteria
You will be assessed on your:
•    ability to frame and explain your topic and to maintain relevance to a publishing context throughout the talk
•    ability to present your talk to the class in a clear, audible and interesting way and to conduct a class discussion
•    ability to structure your talk so that it is logical, coherent and balanced within the time limit
•    knowledge of your topic and the depth of your research
•    organisational skills shown by submitting a plan, arranging and attending a tutorial, presenting the talk on the arranged day, and submitting all notes (including a list of sources) on time.

Editing and Grammar Test

A 45-minute closed-book test on spelling, tautologies, word confusions, plurals and the apostrophe.

Due date
Semester 1, Week 8 (week beginning 7 April)

Percentage weight

Editorial Report

A 1000-word editorial report on an unpublished manuscript.

Due date
Semester 1, Week 12 (week beginning 5 May)

Percentage weight

Assessment criteria
You will be assessed on your ability to:
•    provide a concise yet comprehensive synopsis and an appropriate recommendation
•    find a reasonable number of strengths and weaknesses in the manuscript
•    back up your comments with explanations, including examples from the text if appropriate
•    write logically, coherently and clearly, without spelling or grammatical errors
•    understand and respect the author’s intentions
•    communicate sensitively, honestly and directly.

Grammar and Paragraphing Test

A 1.5-hour test on all grammar and paragraphing work covered in Semester 1.

Due date
Semester 1, Week 15 (week beginning 4 June)

Percentage weight

Punctuation Test

A 1 hour open-book test where you add punctuation to an unpunctuated paragraph and correct punctuation problems in a series of sentences, checking parallel structure and compound words as appropriate. You need to work with the style provided.

Due date
Semester 2, Week 8 (week beginning 27 August)

Percentage weight

Major Editing Project

You are required to edit another student’s piece of writing submitted for a simulated anthology. To participate in the project, you will need to submit a 1000–1200 word piece of writing according to a brief. As the editor, you will be required to do an electronic clean up of your author’s piece and then do a hard-copy edit. You should edit the piece according to the brief, the demands of the piece and market needs. A one-page reflection on your experience of the project as both editor and author should also be submitted.

You should attend both classes for author–editor meetings in the weeks beginning 29 September and 6 October. If, for strong reasons, you are unable to attend one of those classes, you are required to notify your author/editor in advance and make alternative arrangements to complete the work.

Due date
Writing – Semester 2, Week 4 (week beginning 28 July)
Editing Project – Semester 2, Week 14 (week beginning 13 Oct)

Percentage weight

Assessment criteria
You will be assessed on your ability to:
•    edit the piece according to conventions of grammar, spelling, punctuation, house style etc.
•    make appropriate use of email and Word programs to communicate with your author, manage files and do an electronic clean-up of the document
•    mark up correctly, including using both copyediting and structure mark-up, using a style sheet, and marking in corrections after the author has responded
•    understand the author’s intentions and edit according to the demands of the piece and to market needs
•    communicate with and query the author appropriately, and deal appropriately with the author’s responses
•    reflect thoughtfully on the editing process as experienced through the project as author and editor, and articulate any insights gained.

Proofreading Test

A 1 hour open-book test, where you proofread page proofs of a book according to the brief and style provided. You will be marked on your proofreading mark-up as well as your ability to find and correct errors.

Due date
Week 17/18 (Friday 7, Monday 10 or Tuesday 11 November)

Percentage weight

Assessment Matrix

Not applicable

Course Overview: Access Course Overview