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Professional Technical Copyediting Certificate

This 3 course certificate program will give you the skills you need to become a technical editor. Learn everything from basic editing and proofreading to how an editor's role intersects with online design and marketing.

Key Program Information
Series Technical Writing: Online Certificate Programs and Classes
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Become a Technical Editor

This professional course of study is designed to introduce students to the practice of being a technical editor. Students are offered an opportunity to learn the different levels of editing, including mechanical, copyediting, proofreading, and comprehensive editing. Other topics include the editor’s role in the publication cycle, collaboration with writers and authors, and the creation and use of style guides. Basic procedures for editing and proofreading are discussed. The role of the editor in the online medium sometimes blurs distinctions between design, content, technical, and marketing, and this is assessed in the context of the evolving role of editing online content. Other issues discussed include word choice, consistency, sentence structure, and visual design. Weekly assignments and self-assessments assist students in understanding and mastering technical editing principles.

In this certificate-based course of study, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Edit various types of media for grammar, word choice, design, and layout.
  • Create style sheets and produce a final document that has gone through a comprehensive edit.
  • Become knowledgeable about different editing methods and how to best convey feedback to an author.
  • Analyze content and share your feedback.

Students should be prepared to invest 4-6 hours a week for 3 months for this certificate. While this is an independent and self-paced study, students can expect instructor guidance and individualized feedback. An accredited University Certificate will be emailed within two weeks of successful completion.

The Professional Technical Copyediting Certificate consists of the following three courses, which are described in detail below:

 Course 1: Mechanical Editing
 Course 2: Usage, Proofreading, and Editing Online Content
 Course 3: Comprehensive Editing

Course 1: Mechanical Editing

In the first course of the certificate, students are introduced to the basics of copyediting, what copyediting is and is not, different levels and styles of editing, basic editing procedures, and resources to use while editing. Students learn how to copyedit for punctuation, spelling, hyphenation, capitalization, direct quotations, and quantitative material. Students are introduced to conventions and guidelines for mechanical editing and learn how to recognize and correct mechanical errors.

By the end of Course 1, you will be able to:

  • Identify what an editor is and what an editor is not.
  • Mark up hard and soft copy with standard copyediting marks.
  • Copyedit documents for mechanical errors that include punctuation and spelling.
  • Understand how to copyedit direct quotations within a document.
  • Edit quantitative material such as numbers, abbreviations, tables, and graphs.

The outline for Course 1 is as follows:

Week 1: Role of an editor & Markup review
Week 2: Copyediting for punctuation
Week 3: Copyediting for spelling, hyphenation, and capitalization
Week 4: Copyediting quotations
Week 5: Copyediting quantitative material

Course 2: Usage, Proofreading, and Editing Online Content

In the second course of the certificate, students go beyond mechanical editing and focus on grammar and usage that can be harder to identify as incorrect. Students learn the difference between copyediting and proofreading, how to be a good proofreader, and the basic procedure for completing a proofread. Visual design and the physical features of documents are also discussed. Students are introduced to editing online content such as web pages and online help systems.

By the end of Course 2, you will be able to:

  • Look beyond mechanical editing and copyedit documents for grammar and usage.
  • Identify the differences between copyediting and proofreading.
  • Perform a proofread on a document.
  • Understand how visual design helps guide readers and present information, and how to edit for visual design.
  • Copyedit an online help system.
  • Copyedit a web site.

The outline for Course 2 is as follows:

Week 1: Copyediting for grammar and usage
Week 2: Proofreading
Week 3: Visual design
Week 4: Editing online help
Week 5: Editing web pages

Course 3: Comprehensive Editing

In the third and final course of the certificate, students learn how to edit for style and organization. Conventions for organizing and structuring a document are discussed. Students are introduced to style sheets and learn how to create one based on a document. Students learn about comprehensive editing: what it is and how to best perform one. Students are given the opportunity to perform a comprehensive edit that consists of a style sheet, evaluation, analysis, and final edit – a project that combines all lessons from this and the previous two courses in the certificate.

By the end of Course 3, you will be able to:

  • Edit documents based on organization and style.
  • Create and use a style sheet.
  • Know how to evaluate and analyze a document for a comprehensive edit.
  • Perform a comprehensive edit that involves copyediting for mechanical errors, usage, style, organization, and visual design.

The outline for Course 3 is as follows:

Week 1: Organization
Week 2: Style
Week 3: Style sheets
Week 4: Comprehensive editing

Textbooks and Accredited University Certificate are not included. Certificates are only issued upon successful course completion of all required work. For more information contact

Who should attend

Anyone interested in the field of technical editing.


  • Leah Parent has worked in the technical writing industry for over 15 years, focusing on computer software documentation, copy editing, and document design. She has been teaching technical writing, editing, and online documentation for nearly 10 years. She enjoys teaching integral technical writing skills both to those who are new to the field and to professionals who are looking to advance their learning. Leah has a BA in Communications and an MA in Technical Communications from Northeastern University.

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