Course Title: Develop writing and editing skills

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2011

Course Code: COMM5397

Course Title: Develop writing and editing skills

School: 345T Media and Communication

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

Teacher: Ms Penny Johnson
Phone: 9925 4383

Teacher: Ms Stephanie Holt
Phone: 9925 4951

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


1. 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


2. 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


3. 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


4. 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

Classes are a mixture of lectures, discussion, practical exercises and group work.
You learn through:

1. In-class activities:
• lectures
• industry speakers
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• peer teaching and class presentations
• group discussion
• individual and collaborative projects
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• analysis/critique of students’ work

2. Out-of-class activities:

• practical exercises
• reading articles and excerpts
• preparing for discussion
• editorial report writing
• project work
• independent research
• revision for tests.

The Editing 1 website on Blackboard provides information, resources, activities and web links to support your studies. You are expected to manage your learning and undertake an appropriate amount of out-of-class independent study and research.

Teaching Schedule

Semester 1   
Week startingClass contentAssessment due datesElements
Week 1
7 Feb
 Outline course and requirements
Class talk: Introduction
Role of the editor
  1, 3
Week 2
14 Feb
 Class talk: Organise time slots
Language: Spelling and tautologies
The book production process
  2, 4
Week 3
21 Feb

 Class talk: Research and presentation tips
Language: Word confusions
  1, 2
Week 4
28 Feb
 Grammar: Introduction and nouns
Text analysis (non-fiction)
  2, 3
Week 5
7 March
 Grammar: Possession
Text analysis (fiction)
  2, 3
Week 6
14 March
 Grammar: Test revision
Effective communication
  1, 2
Week 7
21 March
Editorial report writing
 Editing and grammar test 1, 2, 3
Week 8
28 March
 Grammar: Sentence grammar—subjects, objects and complements
Editorial report writing
  2, 3
Week 9
4 April
 Grammar: Finite verbs
  1, 3
Week 10
11 April
 Grammar: Non-finite verbs
  1, 3
Week 11
18 April
 Grammar: Pronouns Editorial report 1, 3
Mid-semester break (Thursday 21 April – Wednesday 27 April)   
 Week 12
2 May
 Grammar: Agreement, adjectives, adverbs, determiners  3
 Week 13
9 May
 Grammar: Prepositions and conjunctions  1, 3
 Week 14
16 May
 Grammar: Clauses and phrases  1, 3
 Week 15
23 May
 Grammar: Misplaced, dangling and squinting modifiers
Grammar revision and practice test
  1, 3
 Week 16
30 May
Introduction to Major Editing Project
 Paragraphing and grammar test 1, 3
 Week 17
6 May
 Assessment week  
 Semester break (Monday 13 June – Friday 1 July)   
 Semester 2   
 Week 1
4 July
 Guest speakers
Style: Introduction to house style and capitals
  1, 2, 4
 Week 2
11 July
 Style: Capitals, italics and titles  3, 4
 Week 3
18 July
 Punctuation: Commas, semi-colons and colons

  1, 4
 Week 4
25 July
 Punctuation: Hyphens, ens and ems Writing for Major Project 3, 4
 Week 5
1 Aug
 Punctuation: Quotation marks—fiction and non-fiction conventions  3, 4
 Week 6
8 Aug
 Punctuation: Lists, shortened forms and remaining punctuation issues
Test Revision: Punctuation
 Week 7
15 Aug
Editing symbols and mark-up technique for text and structure
 Punctuation test 1, 3, 4
 Week 8
22 Aug
 Editing fiction
Major Project: Project requirements
 Week 9
29 Aug
 Editing non-fiction
Major Project: Author queries
  1, 2
 Week 10
5 Sept
 Style: Numbers
Major Project: Style sheets
 Week 11
12 Sept
 Major Project: Revision and in-class editing  1
 Week 12
19 Sept
 Major Project: First author–editor meetings
Proofreading: Proofreading symbols and mark-up technique
Mid-semester break (26 September – 7 October)   
 Week 13
10 Oct
 Proofreading: Proofreading technique
Major Project: Second author–editor meetings
 Week 14
17 Oct
 Proofreading: Typography and page proofing terminology
Major Project: Author–editor sign-off
 Major project 3, 4
 Week 15
24 Oct
 Proofreading: Illustrations and figures
Test Revision: Proofreading
Week 16
31 Oct
 Test (No class on Cup Day, Tuesday 1 Nov) Proofreading test 1, 2, 3, 4
 Week 17
7 Nov
 Assessment week (Test for Tuesday class)  

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts

Editing 1 Grammar Handbook 2011 (available from the RMIT Bookshop)
Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edn, John Wiley & Sons, 2002
The Concise Macquarie Dictionary, 5th edn, Macquarie Library, Sydney, 2009 or The Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th edn, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 2009


You are advised to look at the course blackboard site for ongoing updated information.

Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

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

Assessment Tasks

To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment.

1. Class presentation (15%)
A 10-minute presentation on an aspect of editing, publishing, writing or the English language. Your presentation relates 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.

2. Editing and grammar test (7.5%)
A 45-minute closed-book test on spelling, tautologies, word confusions, plurals and the apostrophe.
Due date
Semester 1, Week 7 (week beginning 21 March)

3. Editorial report (15%)
A 1000-word editorial report on an unpublished manuscript.
Due date
Semester 1, Week 11 (week beginning 18 April)

4. Grammar and paragraphing test (20%)
A 1.5-hour test on all grammar and paragraphing work covered in Semester 1.
Due date
Semester 1, Week 16 (week beginning 30 May)

5. Punctuation test (12.5%)
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 work with the style provided.
Due date
Semester 2, Week 7 (week beginning 15 August)

6. Major editing project (20%)
You edit another student’s piece of writing submitted for a simulated anthology. To participate in the project, you submit a 1000–1200 word piece of writing according to a brief. As the editor, you complete an electronic clean up of your author’s piece and then do a hard-copy edit. You edit the piece according to the brief, the demands of the piece and market needs. A one-page reflection on the project as both editor and author details your experience and learning.
Due date
Writing – Semester 2, Week 4 (week beginning 25 July)
Editing Project – Semester 2, Week 14 (week beginning 17 Oct)

7. Proofreading test (10%)
A one-hour open-book test, where you proofread page proofs according to the brief and style provided. You are marked on your proofreading mark-up as well as your ability to find and correct errors.
Due date
Week 16/17 (Thursday 3 November, Friday 4 November or Tuesday 8 November)

Grades used in this unit are as follows:

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

For further information on the grading system and criteria used, please refer to the course blackboard site.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are
available through the course contact in Program administration.

Other Information

Students receive verbal and written feedback from the teacher on their work. Where relevant, this feedback also includes suggestions on how students can proceed to the next stage of developing their projects.

Late Submissions
Please refer to the course blackboard site for policy information including information on late submissions and plagiarism

RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Special consideration Policy (Late Submission)
All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece
of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension.
Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1;

Course Overview: Access Course Overview