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Copyediting I – UCSD Copyediting: Initial Thoughts

In this series, I walk you through what it’s actually like to take the University of California – San Diego’s Copyediting certificate program. The second course required is Copyediting I. This course can be taken simultaneously with Grammar Lab. I opted to take Grammar Lab first, as my schedule is unpredictable. You can see my posts for my initial and final thoughts on the course. Like all the other courses in the program, Copyediting I is ten weeks long.


When you register, there are several sections to choose from. The main thing you are deciding here is the teacher. I am a part of a Facebook group for current students and alumni of the program, so I asked for others’ experiences. This really helped me decide who to go with as there is very little information about these teachers on the wild web. After my experience in Grammar Lab, I recommend doing as much research as you can. 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 Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition
  • The Copyeditor’s Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications 3rd Edition by Amy Einsohn
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (Laminated Cover) 11th Edition
  • Editing in Word 2016 2nd Edition by Adrienne Montgomerie

I had already purchased The Copyeditor’s Handbook back when I first wanted to make this transition. This is a great resource, and I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about becoming a copyeditor. While you may prefer the online version, I found the dictionary for $12 on Amazon. As for Editing in Word, it is only available as a PDF, downloadable from a site called LuLu. It is not cheap either, coming in at around $35.

So, in addition to the $495 you paid for the course, you will be shelling out around $100 in books and readings. Note that two of these books are only used as references. Also, you may get a tax refund for course purchases.


Within my syllabus, the teacher estimated a time commitment of eight hours per week for the readings and assignments. Unlike Grammar Lab, this course is not self-paced, meaning that the teacher opens up the week’s topic on Monday and the assignment is expected to be completed by Sunday night before midnight. Here is the schedule for my section by week. The assignments are in parentheses.

  1. Grammar terms; Copyeditor’s role; Types of editors (Introductory statement)
  2. Copyediting terms and symbols; Punctuation (Quiz 1)
  3. Spelling; Hyphenation (Homework 1)
  4. Querying; Capitalization (Discussion board)
  5. Style sheets; Numbers and numerals (Midterm Exam)
  6. Reference books and resources; Abbreviations, acronyms, and symbols (Computer equipment survey)
  7. Quotations; Tables, graphs, and art (Quiz 2)
  8. Microsoft setup; Tracking changes and adding comments; Spelling and grammar check (Homework 2)
  9. Find and replace; Macros; Course summary (Final exam)
  10. Final exam review; Working as a Copyeditor

As you can see, there are only nine weeks of work, and three of the assignments don’t get graded. It is a lot less quantity of work than Grammar Lab, but clearly, the quality required is higher. Each assignment is worth a lot more points. The quizzes are done within Blackboard while the homework and exams are downloaded, scanned when completed, and uploaded back into Blackboard. This may be an issue for those that do not have a proper scanner.

Initial Reactions

The first week was very simple: introduce yourself on the discussion board and do some reading. My teacher has a discussion board thread used for questions, and she seems to respond in about a day. I sent her an email to confirm that the Fourth of July (meaning no work due), and she took an entire week to respond. As this was by far the simplest question I could have asked in an email, I was a little disheartened she took so long to get back to me.

Each assignment is worth a lot of points, so I will likely be a bit stressed in the beginning until I get a sense of her grading requirements. She did have a lovely introduction where she stated that while there are rules for copyediting, there are nuances to each reading and we need to know when it’s okay to break those rules. I have always had my own style of writing, so I am interested to see her take on it.

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