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Editing III

Course CodeBWR307
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Advanced Editing Course

  • This course is studied by distance learning and provides advanced editing skills.
  • Develop your editing skills with this course designed to take editors with prior training or experience to a greater depth of understanding for editing specialist writing to a more technically proficient standard.
  • It is suitable for senior or management editors or those editors who would like to develop professionally.
  • Suitable for professional development or CPD.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Role of an Editor
  2. A Brief Summary of Grammar
  3. Referencing, Style Guides and Indexing
  4. Editorial Ethics and Relevant Legislation
  5. Editor - Client Relationships
  6. Defining Editorial Queries, Presenting Corporate Briefs, Goal Setting
  7. Developmental and Substantive Editing, and Managing Projects
  8. Blog and Online Editorial Management
  9. Specialist Commercial Editing
  10. Specialist Academic Editing

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Editing Grammar

Editing Grammar is just one of the many things covered in this course.

There are two main approaches used in editing and other language fields. These approaches will help you: 

  • discuss details and goals with your writers;
  • understand different types of editing;
  • understand if and when rules are appropriate;
  • differentiate between standard and non-standard, acceptable and non-acceptable, within a given context.

If you wish to learn more about other approaches, please explore pedagogical grammar, reference grammar, theoretical grammar, and traditional grammar.

Prescriptive Grammar

Prescriptive grammar is about prescription: it tells language users how a language should be used. In this approach, language use is most often divided into “correct” and “incorrect”.

Proof readers, line editors, and copy editors must be familiar with many of these rules in vernacular (ordinary speech in everyday settings) and formal language. Prescriptive grammarians take this a step further, enforcing rules such as:

  • never splitting infinitives,
  • never ending sentences with prepositions,
  • maintaining outdated plural forms (e.g. “beef” to “beeves”).

Prescriptive grammar makes judgements about language standards. These standards are usually set by rule use as opposed to actual use or sampling. Although this approach is still used and famed among “grammar purists”, it is no longer widespread. 
There are many reasons the prescriptive approach is dying out, though the central one is likely that its rules are founded on rules derived from Latin and Greek. This is a result of the elevation of Latin and Greek during the Renaissance and Enlightenment. As language analysis and academia shifts more toward a scientific approach, the singular idea of correctness promoted by prescriptive grammarians will have little use outside copyediting. 

Descriptive Grammar

This approach to grammar focuses on language use. It searches for structures and patterns actively used within a language. These are derived through analysis of a corpus, or collection of examples of the language is used. This can be a set of recordings, texts, or both. Unlike prescriptive grammar, descriptive grammar makes no judgement on what is correct and what is not based on a single set of rules. Instead, it looks out how users actively use the language, and considers what fits within a given group’s pattern of use. This is an especially important concept for editors because context and understanding of audience are essential to evaluating a writer’s language.

Examples of different groups include known cultures, subcultures, and other social groupings. For instance, among mobile phone users 18 – 25, abbreviated forms and pictographic representations such as gifs and emoji are both common and accepted. This use may vary according to context – personal vs. professional. There are also layers within the professional use, such as familiar (peer level), managerial, and executive. There are also written levels of professional language interaction with the wider world; although both online content, the distance between blog posts and whitepapers is vast. 

The more advanced editor must be able to consider the writer’s language use and choices within the context of the content. This means recognising features of the text, defining and recognising use groups or audience, and working toward these standards with the writer.

Standard vs. Non-standard

The most commonly used form of a language, with commonly held rules, represents the standard version of the language. Standard English refers to the most commonly used English, that carries from individual use to larger group and structural use (such as governmental use). Many factors go into defining the standard form of a language, the discussion of which is beyond the scope of this lesson. It is important, however, that the editor understand the concept of a standard form and a non-standard form.

The idea of a standard form is non-judgemental; deviations from standard usage are neither “wrong” nor “incorrect”. Consider: if the most commonly sold cake in a small town is chocolate cake, are all other cakes unacceptable? If you are attending a function where several attendees cannot eat gluten, must a standard chocolate cake be provided? Or will the variation, a flourless chocolate cake, be acceptable?
The descriptive approach to grammar recognises variation without judging it. “Standard” is merely a term, denoting a form of language.


This describes the surroundings or circumstances of something. In the case of language, thinking about context means considering:
  • text purpose,
  • text type,
  • tone,
  • the writer’s personality (writer refers to your individual writer/client, not writer in a general sense),
  • the writer’s language,
  • general audience traits,
  • general audience formality,
  • specific jargon (e.g. ROI, endothermic, intrinsic motivation, enthymeme).

Context is important in working out what the writer’s goals are, what the standard practice for the text type is, then bringing them into alignment. This will also help the editor advise on clarity, when to use jargon vs. plain English, and how to best reach the audience.

Punctuation and Clarity

Punctuation helps readers read, and writers write. Used with intent it can improve clarity and reduce word count. It’s an important tool in any editor’s toolkit. 


Among invertebrates, members of the order Lepidoptera are most recognisable. This group is made up of butterflies and moths, many of which have bodies with different colours and patterning.

Among invertebrates, members of the order Lepidoptera are most recognisable. This group, made up of butterflies and moths, often displays fanciful colours and patterning.

The change here is seemingly quite minor – “is” has been replaced by a single comma. That single shift, however, turned “made up of butterflies and moths” into a true non-essential clause. This changes the structure and flow of the sentence. That change then has a knock-on effect: the sentence no longer fits with the wordy “many of which”. This forces the editor to rethink a wordy section and simplify it.

Editing is full of such knock-on effects.

Is this the course for you?

  • If you would like to improve your job and career prospects in editing and writing.
  • If you would like to study by distance learning in your own time.
  • If you would like to start at a time to suit you.
  • If you would like to learn more about editing.

If this is you, then why delay? Enrol today.


Meet some of our academics

John Mason John Mason is one of Australia's most prolific writers. He saw his first work published when at secondary school, where he worked on the school magazine. In 1973 he was writing a weekly column for his local newspaper and by 1975 he was a regular contributor to Australia's national magazine "Your Garden". John was engaged by Victoria's Dept of Youth, Sport and Recreation to write a book on Fun and Fitness Trails in 1978. In 1981 he saw two more books published (one in America, another in Australia), and commenced writing regularly for the Self Sufficiency Magazine, Grass Roots. John is a long term member of the Australian Society of Authors, the Garden Media Guild (UK) and the Horticultural Media Association (Australia). He has written or contributed to over 100 books, many published by international publishers and published more than 2,000 articles across a range of genres (Gardening, Education, Business, Farming, Fitness). In addition, John has contributed to and overseen the development of more than 600 distance education courses which encompass around 20 million words. He has been an avid photographer for 40 years, building a collection of over 100,000 images, which are used to illustrate his work. His marine animal photos are even used by Legoland in England, on their Atlantis ride! Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.
Kieran McCartneyB.A., M.Distance Ed., M.Exercise Science, Dip.Mgt., Dip.English
Peta Jinnath AbdulB.Sc., Grad.Dip.Ed., M.Creative Writing