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Copyediting III – UCSD Copyediting: Initial Thoughts

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


This is the same with all of the courses, but I will say it 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. 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
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition) by MerriamWebster’s
  • Garner’s Modern English Usage (4th Edition) by Bryan A. Garner

The first two books have been required for the last two courses, so you should already have them. The Chicago Manual of Style is essential for anyone who wants to edit within the publishing realm. The Copyeditor’s Handbook is a great resource in making the CMOS easier to understand and actually use.

Both the Dictionary and Garner are additional reference books, with the latter being a literal guide on how to use certain words and phrases. You could opt to get the online subscription to Merriam-Webster. My course syllabus does have a few readings from the beginning of Garner, but in general, these are resources that you will use beyond these courses. I purchased the dictionary for around $15 and Garner for $30Prices will vary depending on where and when you purchase.


This is not a self-paced course. Each lesson opens Monday morning, and you are required to complete the assignments by the following Sunday at midnight. UCSD suggests you prepare for a minimum of nine hours of work each week. Here are the subjects we will cover.

1: Introduction, style sheets review
2: Resources & references
3: Usage
4: Style
5: Developmental editing
6: Documentation, notes
7: Front and back matter, tables
8: Permissions, legal considerations
9: Copyediting as a business
10: Discussion, networking

This course is different from the rest in that there are no quizzes or short assignments to perform. Instead, you are given a long manuscript, approximately twenty pages, and asked to perform a heavy edit over the course of ten weeks, turning in sections throughout. There are some weeks with no turn-in.

In addition, there are assigned readings, both from the required textbooks and a short lecture document (in the case with my teacher). The books are not read straight through, instead, certain sections are chosen each week, so it is hard to determine an exact page count. You must once again participate in the discussion forums.

The grades are weighted in the following manner:

Discussion Board Participation: 25%
Manuscript Project: 75%
– First Section 10%
– Second Section 10%
– Third Section 10%
– Fourth Section 10%
– Fifth Section 10%
– Completed Final MS 25%

Initial Reactions

My course just started this week, and we are easing into things: introducing ourselves on the forums and looking over the manuscript we will be editing. It’s a huge project, and it feels a bit intimidating. However, I know I just need to take a breath and dig into the work. I have had this professor before for Copyediting II, and I know him to be fair and helpful.

It’s a little bittersweet to be in the final stretch. I am both excited about my prospects, but also nervous about being thrown into the wild. As our professor said, everyone still gets those moments of self-doubt, we just have to work hard and trust in our abilities.

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  1. Kimberly

    Hi! Thank you so much for writing these reviews! Any chance you wouldn’t mind sharing who your instructors were—especially for Copyediting II and III? I suddenly find myself switching from the Berkeley program to the San Diego program after taking their Grammar Lab course and being unimpressed (I didn’t feel it was worth the inflated price tag). I was originally planning to take Grammar Lab at Berkeley and then complete Chicago’s program, but a recent Q&A session revealed that contrary to what a few people told me, the program does not focus on fiction.

    • KyleMarie

      I had John Adams for Grammar Lab, Jennifer Maybin for Copyediting I, and Chris Stewart for Copyediting II and III. I don’t have any big complaints about any of them, but as far as I know, the teachers rotate often, and these may not be teaching there at the moment. I would definitely recommend Chris if he is.

      As for Chicago not focusing on fiction, I actually don’t know a certificate program that does. There are many courses from organizations and other editors, but most of these multi-class programs tend to focus on non-fiction. San Diego is the same. It is definitely the best bang for your buck in terms of the programs you mentioned. I think the reason these programs focus on non-fiction is that it is easier to focus on the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style. Once you’ve learned how to apply them, you’ll know when it’s okay to break them in fiction. Fiction is much more subjective, and I think, therefore, harder to teach to a wide audience in this format. I know San Diego has expressed interest in starting a course for fiction, but they don’t currently have one.

      I wish you luck on your journey!

      • Kimberly

        Thanks for the information, Kyle! I will keep an eye out for him. I completed the EFA’s developmental editing classes with Jennifer Lawler, which were really helpful. I hope San Diego adds a developmental editing track to their program. I’d love to have that skill stamped on an official certificate. 🙂

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