There are many reasons why you might be looking into copy editing courses, from wanting to improve your existing skillset to the desire to make a career change. Completing a copy editing course can enhance your CV and make you more attractive to potential employers. Even established editors and publishing professionals benefit from keeping their skills regularly updated.
In this guide, we outline the main points to consider if you’re looking for copy editing courses in the UK and give you tips on how to find the best course or combination of courses for you.
What do copy editing courses cover?
The content of each course can vary greatly depending on the duration, the level and the provider; however, some general topics that both beginner’s courses and advanced courses will usually cover are:
- An overview of copy editing and proofreading
- Basic grammar
- Spelling and common errors
- Proofreading techniques
- House style and style guides
- Crafting intriguing headlines, introductions and captions
- Finding work in the industry
Do I need to go to university to be a copy editor?
Many copy editors hold degrees in relevant subjects such as Publishing, Digital Media and Journalism. However, there are other routes you can take, including internships and work experience. You can use the UCAS website to search for relevant undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Another useful read is this guide to publishing courses in higher education.
Questions to ask when comparing copy editing courses
When you first set out to find the perfect course for you, it can feel somewhat overwhelming as there are a huge number of providers and course options available. It can be tempting to go for a course which is on special offer or has a discounted price, but this is not the best option in the long term and you may find yourself deciding to take another course shortly after completing it.
Here are some of the key things to consider when choosing a content editing course:
- Do I study online or in classes?
- Is there tutor support?
- How long does the course take to complete?
- Is there a limit on how long I have to complete the course?
- Will I get a formal qualification at the end?
- Will I get CPD points if I complete it and how many?
- Does completing this course have any other benefits, such as points towards membership of a professional body?
- Do the course and the provider both have a substantial number of positive reviews from past students?
- What are the main things I want to gain or learn from the course and are they covered in the course’s module list?
Types of copy editing courses
The course that is best for you will depend on the amount of experience you already have in the industry, the number of hours you can set aside for the course and the type of learning experience you would prefer. There are some courses that will focus on equipping you with a broad set of copy editing skills whereas others will zone in on more specialist areas. Some people prefer to study online at home in their own time, whereas others learn best in a classroom environment with other students.
Sub-editing or copy editing courses?
The line between sub-editing and copy editing is a blurry one but generally speaking, a copy editor works in book publishing and a sub-editor will work on newspapers, digital publications and magazines. However, depending on who you talk to you’re likely to be met with different opinions!
In both copy editing and sub-editing, spelling and grammar, flow and readability are checked. Other elements of a sub-editor’s job can include rewriting and restructuring content to a larger degree, large-scale cutting of articles, checking facts and making sure copy complies with libel and copyright laws.
Sub-editors working on digital publications, which these days make up the majority, will also be in charge of inserting and correcting HTML, such as text formatting and hyperlinks, in addition to uploading and sometimes editing images.
Qualifications and CPD points
The majority of UK classroom-based copy editing courses take place within or near to London. Most copy editing courses do not result in a formal qualification, however you may gain CPD, Continuing Professional Development, points which are directly related to the number of hours of study time the course includes. Find out more about what CPD points are and the benefits of gaining them at short courses at locations in Central London throughout the year. Below are three to take a look at:
If you already know that you aren’t interested in book or journal editing and want to gain skills related to digital copy editing or newspaper copy editing, then the Editorial Skills for Non-Publishers is a course that is designed for you.
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading
Formally known as the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders(SfEP), the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is another leading body that offers courses for all levels. On their website you can find out more about their full list of courses and reasons for training with the CIEP. Membership to a professional organisation such as this looks great on job applications and as a member, you can benefit from discounted prices on CIEP courses.
Other copy editing course providers
Another course provider to consider is Chapterhouse, since being founded in 1991, they have built up a solid reputation in the industry and are known for their high standards. They offer seminars in addition to a variety of proofreading and editorial courses.
The London School of Publishing (LSP)
Sub-Editing (on completion you will be awarded 8 CPD points)
Copy Editing (on completion you will be awarded 4 CPD points)
The London School of Public Relations (LSPR)
Based in Kensington, this is a great location to study if you want to enjoy a trip to the capital at the same time. LSPR provides a range of one to two-day courses including the Sub-Editing (ED04) course and the Copy Editing course (ED01), which both offer CPD points on completion.
NCC Home Learning
NCC Home Learning is a distance learning expert that offers a number of flexible home-based courses. The Proofreading Diploma Level 4 is an extensive course and on successful completion, you will gain a certificate of achievement by NCFE.
Centre of Excellence
The Proofreading & Editing Diploma Course is another comprehensive course that if completed successfully results in a total of 150 CPD points.
In addition to taking online or classroom-based copy editing courses, creating a portfolio of work is an important step in becoming a professional Copy Editor, Content Editor or Sub-Editor. Many writers go on to become copy editors and sometimes jobs can be interchangeable and include a mix of both copy writing and editing.