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Copyediting II – UCSD Copyediting: Initial Thoughts

Copyediting II is the third stop on the way to the Copyediting Certificate from University of California – San Diego. You must first pass Grammar Lab and Copyediting I, which can be taken simultaneously. Check out the links for my final thoughts on those courses. All courses within this program are ten weeks long.

Registration

This is the same with all of the courses, but I think it serves to be said again here. When you register, there are several sections to choose from. The main thing you are deciding here is the teacher. There is very little information about these teachers online. I recommend doing as much research as you can. As I mentioned last time, there is a Facebook Group for current students and alumni of the program who may offer you some insight into their experiences with the teachers available. Keep in mind, the course itself may differ in style, but one could assume you will be getting the same substance. I can only speak for what was available within my course from my teacher. I make no promises that it will be exactly the same experience for you.

Course Requirements

The books required for my section were the following:

  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and
    Corporate Communications (3rd Edition) by Amy Einsohn
  • The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors,
    and Publishers (17th Edition) by University of Chicago Press Staff
  • Oxford Essential Guide to Writing (1st Edition) by Thomas S. Kane

The first two books are truly essential to any copyeditor, no matter the experience level. I have spoken before about Einsohn’s book. It is a comprehensive collection that touches on many subjects, ranging from what it means to be a copyeditor, levels of copyediting, grammar, and style. The book will run you around $40 new, which seems expensive for a style book, but it really is like a condensed textbook. We used in my Copyediting I class.

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is the book on usage. In previous courses, it was recommended, but as we get deeper in, it is required reading. It runs around $60-70 on Amazon, though you may be able to find a used copy. You really do need the 17th edition (or whatever the edition will be when you take the course). Usage and style changes and the book reflects that. They offer an online version for $40 a year. You get the two most recent additions (online). I prefer the physical book, so I purchased mine. They also offer bundles that include the online format and a physical book.

The Kane book is available in a mass market paperback form for just $7.99. It touches on grammar and usage, though from my read through it focused a lot more on sentence style and structure. It deals a lot with the actual writing of all of these elements.

After the course started, the syllabus actually had a recommended book, Garner’s Modern English Usage (4th Edition) by Bryan A. Garner, which was not listed when I registered. If I remember correctly, most of the Copyediting III courses had this book listed as required. So it may be something to consider if you like staying ahead.

Coursework

This is not a self-paced course. Each lesson opens Monday morning, and you need to complete the assignments by the following Sunday at midnight. UCSD estimates an average of three hours online and six hours offline each week. Here are the subjects we will cover. Assignments are listed in parentheses.

1: Introduction, Punctuation, and CMOS (Quiz, Discussion Board)
2: Author relationship, queries, style sheets, spelling (Quiz, Discussion Board)
3: Authorial style, word choice, bias, titles in text  (Quiz, Discussion Board)
4: Structure, conjunctions, parallelism, numbers  (Quiz, Discussion Board)
5: Midterm exam
6: Nominalizations, concision, quotations  (Quiz, Discussion Board)
7: Paragraphs, web editing, tables  (Short edit, Discussion Board)
8: Headings, abbreviations, business (Short edit, Discussion Board)
9: Final exam
10: Open Discussion, freelancing

Once again, there are only nine weeks of work. Week ten is discussing the course in the forums and asking follow-up questions with the professor. There is quite a bit of reading each week, always containing a section within the CMOS. The accompanying readings from Einsohn or Kane are cherry-picked to match the topic, so there is a lot of jumping around within each book. My professor also recorded his own audio lessons, so that will be a nice change from my previous two courses.

There are only a total of 100 points available, and not everything is graded. I am not sure the difficulty or amount required as none of these lessons have opened for me yet. Here is the breakdown of the final grade.

Discussion Board Participation: 20%
Assignments: 30%
Midterm: 20%
Final: 30%

Initial Reactions

The goal of this course is to learn more about medium copyediting. As of writing this, I am halfway through Week One. I introduced myself on the discussion board and took the quiz, which was not graded. It consisted of five simple questions to get accustomed to the format and searching within the CMOS. The reading was a full chapter of the CMOS. I listened to my professor’s introductory lesson, and I will be curious about how well it complements and adds to the reading. In past courses that the Powerpoint lesson just rehashed the simplest ideas.

I have heard amazing things about the professor I chose, and he even says in the syllabus that if you do the work on time and engage within the class setting, you will pass. He has already responded to everyone’s forum posts the same day. It is only an introduction, so it is a simple response, but it is nice to see a quick turnaround. There is a lot of chatter between students, which has been rare in my past two courses. I even found two other people from Iowa in my class (who also went to the U of I)! Hawkeyes are spread across the world!

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