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Unit of study_

MECO6916: Editing and Proofreading

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

Students will develop the skills of structural editing, copyediting and proofreading, on screen and paper, across a range of content for both print and digital output. They will understand the significance of the roles of the editor and proofreader and how these roles have been affected by technological change and globalisation.

Unit details and rules

Unit code MECO6916
Academic unit Media and Communications
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jo Butler,
Lecturer(s) Jo Butler,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation group assignment Participation
5% - Ongoing
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO9 LO8 LO7 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Format a manuscript using Microsoft Word
15% Week 05
Due date: 31 Mar 2021 at 23:59
750 words equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO7
Assignment Write a structural report on a novel manuscript and a covering letter to the author
30% Week 08
Due date: 28 Apr 2021 at 23:59
2000 word equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO7 LO8
Assignment Copyedit a novel extract on screen
25% Week 11
Due date: 19 May 2021 at 23:59
Equivalent of 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO1
Assignment Proofread a short non-fiction text on screen and on hard copy
25% Week 13
Due date: 02 Jun 2021 at 23:59
Equivalent of 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO6 LO8 LO9 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Format a manuscript ready for editing: Students are required to format a manuscript produced in Microsoft Word ready for editing, including: creating a template; setting margins, paper size and other layout elements; setting up style sheets including styles for title, author name, chapter headings and sub-headings, indented and non-indented text, dinkuses; perform search and replace and spell-check operations.
  • Write a structural report about a novel and a covering letter to the author regarding the structural report: Students are required to  write a structural report on a fiction manuscript covering the craft elements involved in fiction writing such as structure, writing style, narrative voice, characterisation and the use of narrative summary vis a vis scenes and dialogue. Students are also required to write a covering letter to the author about their structural report bearing in mind: the importance of the covering letter in creating and maintaining a good relationship with the author and providing encouragement that the author is capable of improving the manuscript along the lines set out in the structural report.
  • Onscreen copyedit of a novel extract: Students are required to format and then copyedit a chapter from a novel on screen using track changes.
  • Proofread of a short non-fiction text on hard copy and on screen: Students are required to proofread a short non-fiction document on paper using universal proofreading symbols and on screen using PDF mark-up tools.
  • Participation: Students are expected to attend 80% of all classes, read the assigned readings, prepare notes and questions for each class and contribute to seminar discussions.

  • Detailed information for each assessment will be available on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High Distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a Credit a good standard, and a Pass is an acceptable standard.

More details about the grading of each assignment is available on Canvas.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 The book publishing process from an editor’s perspective. Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 The editorial process including structural editing, copyediting and proofreading. Seminar (3 hr) LO2
Week 03 Formatting documents for editing on screen and on paper. Seminar (3 hr) LO3
Week 04 How to use track changes for onscreen structural editing and copyediting. Seminar (3 hr) LO3
Week 05 Structural editing of non-fiction books and other factual documents. Seminar (3 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 06 Structural editing of novels and short fiction. Seminar (3 hr) LO4 LO5
Week 07 Editing academic and professional texts. Seminar (3 hr) LO5
Week 08 Plain English, grammar and punctuation. Seminar (3 hr) LO6
Week 09 Copyediting of book manuscripts and other documents. Seminar (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5
Week 10 How to use PerfectIt and macros when copyediting. Seminar (3 hr) LO4
Week 11 Proofreading on screen and on hard copy. Seminar (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO8
Week 12 Editing and proofreading of documents and online material for government departments and other organisations. Seminar (3 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9
Week 13 Recap of the unit and discussion of inhouse, consulting and freelance editorial and proofreading jobs in a variety of organisations. Seminar (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6 LO7 LO8 LO9

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: students are expected to attend 80% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board which will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold.
  • Lecture Recording: Lectures will not be recorded except in specific circumstances.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours’ preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

The reading list is available on Canvas.


Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the elements of the contemporary book publishing cycle an editor needs to know.
  • LO2. understand the role of in-house editors, freelance editors and freelance proofreaders in the book and magazine publishing industries as well as in organisations such as government departments and corporations.
  • LO3. use key features of Microsoft Word including the ‘track changes’ facility when editing on screen.
  • LO4. apply the principles and core skills of structural editing, copyediting and proofreading to various texts including book manuscripts and digital and hard-copy documents produced by other organisations such as corporations and government departments.
  • LO5. know how to assist authors to produce engaging writing in all areas, including digital and hard-copy text for books, magazines, corporations, government departments and other organisations.
  • LO6. apply the principles of Plain English, grammar and punctuation when editing books as well as digital and hard-copy material for corporations and government departments.
  • LO7. establish and maintain a constructive and positive editorial relationship with the authors of books and other online and hard-copy texts while editing and proofreading their writing.
  • LO8. understand the importance of maintaining an author’s voice, intention and style during the editing process, taking into account their expectations as well as those of the publisher or organisation they are writing for along with bearing in mind the audience for the material.
  • LO9. proofread PDF documents on screen and proofread hard copy documents using the universally accepted editing symbols.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

The following changes have been made to this course as a result of student feedback and the lecturer's reflections: 1. A seminar on preparing documents for editing has been added, as this is very important. 2. More time has been allocated to practical excercises in relation to copyediting using track changes and proofreading using pdf mark up facilities. 3. More time has been allocated to editing in other areas besides book publishing. 4. There is less extensive detail on grammar and punctuation in line with modern editorial practice in favour of concentrating on what knowledge of grammar and punctuation the contemporary editor needs.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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