Editing in Academic and Professional Contexts

WRIT 265/3.0

This course introduces the levels of editing - substantive, stylistic, and copyediting - and how to apply these skills to academic and professional documents such as reports, essays, articles, and newsletters. The course will give students the tools both to revise their own work and to edit the work of others for greater clarity.


This 12-week course has six modules. The first (week 1) offers a general introduction to what editors do and the wide variety of materials that they work on. It provides an overview of the three main levels of editing and where these editorial stages occur in the publishing process. The next three modules (weeks 2 to 7) focus on different levels of editing: structural, stylistic, and copy editing.

In the structural editing portion of the course, students will assess a manuscript and propose restructuring to suit the intended audience. Exercises in stylistic editing will give practice in issues such as reducing wordiness, avoiding bias, varying sentence length, ensuring logical connections, promoting clarity of meaning, and adjusting language level to audience. The copy editing module focuses on consistency, correctness, and completeness. Students will develop a style sheet and learn to consistently apply categories of editorial style (e.g., abbreviations, capitalization, treatment of numbers, Canadian spelling, documentation).

Module 5 spans four weeks (8 to 11) and provides students with the opportunity to explore two genres in some depth. Students will choose from Option 5A – Academic and Scholarly Publishing (academic essays and scholarly books); Option 5B – Reports (business reports, technical reports, government reports); Option 5C – Fiction (short stories, novels); or Option 5D – Literary and Creative Non-Fiction (personal essays, travel writing, memoir). These options allow students to develop their skills in areas of writing of particular interest to them.

The last module (week 12) stresses professional development in the evolving world of publishing.


Students will be evaluated on four editing assignments (60%), three quizzes (15%), and participation in online activities and discussions (25%). This course has no final exam.

Quiz 1 – knowledge of the publishing process and the three levels of editing (5%)
Quiz 2 – stylistic editing / grammar (5%)
Quiz 3 – copy editing / grammar (5%)

Assignment 1 – structural editing (15%)
Assignment 2 – copy editing (15%)
Assignment 3 – one of the options in Module 5 (15%)
Assignment 4 – one of the options in Module 5 (15%)

Participation in and completion of online learning activities (25%)


Module 1Introduction to Editing
Module 2Structural Editing
Module 3Stylistic Editing
Module 4Copy Editing
Module 5

Academic and Scholarly Publishing
Editing Reports
Literary and Creative Nonfiction

Module 6The 21st Century Editior


Maureen Garvie has worked as a librarian, journalist, editor, and program coordinator and course instructor at the Queen's Writing Centre. She is a copy-editor with McGill-Queen's University Press, the author of three young adult novels, and the co-author of several nonfiction books.

Email: garviem@queensu.ca

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 8-10 hours a week in study / practice and online activity for WRIT 265.

Students are expected to participate in online activities and discussions throughout the course. Quizzes are due in weeks 3, 5, and 7. Assignments are due in weeks 4 (structural editing), 6 (stylistic editing), 8 (copy editing), 10 (genre of choice), and 12 (genre of choice).

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.