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Copyediting III – UCSD Copyediting: Final Thoughts

It’s finally over. Just last week, I completed the fourth and final course with the University of California – San Diego Copyediting program, Copyediting III. It spanned ten weeks, and you can see my full initial thoughts on the course here. Let’s dive a little deeper.

My Copyediting III course required the following each week:

  1. Reading, approximately 20-50 pages plus sections of the Chicago Manual of Style
  2. Heavy editing a section of a nonfiction manuscript
  3. Discussion post

My professor provided a lesson on the weekly topic in the form of a Word document. While the course was technically ten weeks, only five weeks required a turn-in of the manuscript.

Readings

When registering, the following books were required:

  • 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
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition) by Merriam-Webster
  • Garner’s Modern English Usage (4th Edition) by Bryan A. Garner

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is once again the main required reading. Every week there was at least a few sections from the CMOS to read in addition to complementary sections from Einsohn or Garner. Truly, your main reading is going to be when you are using these references for the manuscript.

Assignments

Discussion board participation was required each week, but at this point in the program, most people are helpful and post often. It’s easy to participate. My group was so talkative, it often became overwhelming when I saw all the unread posts. This often meant spending a lot more time on the forums than I anticipated. On average, I spent about an hour reading and posting. Toward the end, it started to take up to two hours.

The only other assignment is the manuscript. It is approximately twenty pages and includes a table and a bibliography. This is the ultimate test of putting your knowledge of the CMOS to use. It is broken into sections for each turn-in. You are tasked with performing a heavy copyedit, including queries to the author. It is recommended you use a style sheet, but my professor did not require us to turn it in.

As you get feedback on the sections, you should be applying them to your master document, because at the end of the course, you submit the complete edited manuscript. The manuscript is difficult. Some of my coursemates thought it was “beyond hope.” And while the document was terrible for the purposes of this course, I didn’t think it was that bad. In fact, we are sure to run into a client that needs this level of editing. I found it challenging but wonderful practice.

Tracking my time, I worked on the manuscript between five and seven hours each week, not including the final turn-in. I recommend spreading that time out over a few days. I do three passes for each edit, taking at least a day between the last two. Our professor recommended the same, sometimes with a fourth pass. Keep in mind, everyone performs at a different speed. You may be faster or slower depending on your circumstances.

Professor

I was lucky enough the get the same professor I had for Copyediting II. I really enjoyed his teaching style, and I was happy to not have to adapt to a new way of learning. Instead, I was able to focus on the actual editing.

He was quick to respond to emails and grading. He was an active participant on the boards. It was nice to have a laid back professor who was knowledgeable yet approachable.

Final Thoughts

I say this standard speech every time. Your experience will vary. Each professor sets their course in their own way and may require different assignments. They may be more lenient with grading. They may not be as good at responding to questions. And as always, it will all depend on your willingness to do the work and your previous background with editing and grammar. I can only attest to my experience in this specific course with this professor.

So, did I learn anything? Resoundingly yes. I did really well on each section with only a couple comments on the first two sections. This meant, subjectively, my editing of the manuscript was perfect. However, it also meant I got little or no feedback in terms of alternate ways to approach it. In some ways, this could be a negative. However, it can also be a confidence boost.

This was a great way to end the program. It forced you to combine all of the skills you should have honed in the previous courses and apply them to a near worst-case scenario manuscript. I am very satisfied with the course itself and the certificate program as a whole. I’ll provide a review of the program soon and provide additional resources for someone interested in registering.

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