Literary Editing Practicum

EN 311.01    Spring 2012    T/Th 2:00 - 3:15

Dr. Susan Swartwout  

office phone: 651-2044

Office: GB 318-O 

Texts required: 

     Chicago Manual of Style, 14th or 15th edition

     Copyediting: A Practical Guide 3rd edition, by Karen Judd

     a recently published dictionary, preferably Webster’s Collegiate or American Heritage

     a novel or nonfiction book of your choice, published by an independent or university press in 2008, 2009,  2010, 2011, or 2012 (i.e. not by Stephen King, Chuck Palahniuk, nor any other commercial authors)


How to do well in this class:

Copyediting both as a job and in this class is Deadline Intensive! Turn in each completed assignment typed and on time: Late work does not receive credit, but it is accepted, noncredit, if you desire feedback from the professor regarding the specific assignment. If you need an extension on an assignment due to illness or other necessary absence, you must ask for the extension before the class period in which it is due. Extensions for other reasons depend upon the professor’s decision.

            Be (well) prepared with each assignment on its assigned date. Your discussion of the assignment and your supported opinions bring essential information to the class. Be thorough. Do your research.  If you’re not 100% certain, look it up! This class will provide the tools, but they’re worthless if you don’t use them. If you’re not willing to be curious and particular (i.e. “perfectionist”), then copyediting probably isn’t for you as an occupation, but learning it will certainly help you in any writing endeavor.

      Some of the documents you work on will be from literary journals that we publish at the university (Journey, The Cape Rock, and Big Muddy). More than just “your grade” is at risk. At the University Press, we take pride in our work. Take pride in your contributions to these publications.

            Attend class and be in class on time: Your attendance reflects directly upon your participation and on-time assignments. Furthermore, when you are absent or late, you detract from your fellow students’ college experience by missing discussions, you detract from your own grade by missing exams or quizzes, and being late interrupts the class and the instructor.  It’s just plain rude.  There will be no “make-up” quizzes. Exams, however, can be made up if you have my approval in advance.

            Do all the reading. The discussions, exams, and quizzes are all based on the readings and class discussion. Since the reading is significant and detailed, don’t attempt to wait until the last minute to catch up on several reading assignments. A pop-quiz may be given on any day, especially if class discussion is weak.


Students are responsible for upholding the principles of academic honesty and classroom civility in accordance with the "University Statement of Student Rights" found in the Student Handbook.


How your grade will be assessed:

Daily assignments and participation – 20%

Quizzes – 10%

Midterm exam – 10%

Final exam - 10%

Editing project - 20%

Professional Writing portfolio - 30%


Professional Writing Portfolio

Your Professional Writing portfolio will be turned in at the end of the semester. It consists of perfectly edited (i.e. one error or less) copies of:

            1) your resume, page-designed and without any errors in spelling, syntax, or formatting

            2) a 500-word contemporary review of the university- or small-press novel you’ve chosen

            3) a press release for that same book

            4) six selections of original (i.e. written by you) catalogue-copy designed for a specific audience. For this assignment, you may choose any books that you’ve read in the past, commercial or small press.


Syllabus: Have assignments done on the date by which they are listed

Week 1

01/17: Introduction to the course.  Discussion of catalogue copy.

01/19: Read Chapter 1 in Copyediting

Week 2

                        01/24: Symbols.  Read Chapter 2. In-class editing.

            01/26: Chicago Manual of Style basic usage. In-class Find-a-Thon. Your one-page resume draft is due.

Week 3

01/31: Stylesheets and editing awareness. Read Chapter 3.  In-class editing.

            02/02: Workshop of edited copy and stylesheet. Fact-finding online.

Week 4

02/07: Punctuation. Read pp 62–89. Quiz.

02/09:  Workshop of take-home punctuation sheet.

Week 5

02/14: Grammar. Read pp. 89–108. Quiz

02/16: Workshop of grammar sheet. Two catalogue-copy blurbs due.

Week 6

02/21: Spelling and Hyphenation. Read Chapter 5. Quiz.

02/23: Workshop of spelling sheet. Book reviewing in print and online. Reviews handout.

Week 7

02/28: I’m at the AWP conference. Wish you were here! No class for you.

03/01: AWP conference. No class for you.

Week 8

03/06: Numbers. Read Chapter 7. Quiz. Presentation of Treasure Hunt results.  Handout Editing Project.

03/08: Midterm exam. Two more catalogue-copy blurbs due.      


Week 10

03/20: Poetry copyediting practicum.

03/22: Art placement and editing. In-class practicum.

Week 11

03/27: Editing typography. Read Chapter 9. Five-hundred-word book review due.

03/29: Special types of editing. Read Chapter 10. In-class practicum.

Week 12

04/03: Editing Project due. Workshop.

04/05: Make a copy of the document below in Word (.doc not .docx), proofread and correct it, then email it to me at as an attachment.


Continue workshop of Editing Project.

Week 13

04/10: Press release handouts. Discussion of press releases.

04/12: Read Chapter 8 in Copyediting.  Quiz.

Week 14:

04/17:  Press releases due. In-class copyediting of press releases

04/19:  Handout of bibliography editing. In-class practicum


Week 15

04/24: Bring clean, “finished” copies of your four Professional Writing assignments for copyediting in class. This is your final opportunity to have another set of eyes review your work before it is graded. To receive an “A” on the portfolio, you must have clearly written, interesting copy in which only one grammatical/punctuation error is allowed (in the entire portfolio).

04/26:  more portfolio editing

Week 16

05/01: editing                       

05/03: Professional Writing portfolios due. Open discussion of any problems/questions in editing the portfolio. Review for final exam.


 Final exam on Tuesday, May 8, 2:00.