Style encompasses rules of grammar and formatting conventions for text, headings, and references, with the aim of precisely conveying meaning. Many fields and publications follow a particular style manual; below we’ve listed the most commonly used manuals as well as some specialized ones.
- AMA (American Medical Association): AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th ed. (2009).
- AP: Associated Press Stylebook. Updated annually. Online subscription available.
- APA: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th ed. (2010). For scholarly work in the social sciences.
- The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (2017). For books and academic theses in humanistic and scientific fields. The 16th edition (2010) is still in use by some publishers. Online subscription available; Guild members can subscribe at a discount (members-only link).
- CSE (Council of Science Editors): Scientific Style and Format: The CSE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 8th ed. (2014).
- MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th ed. (2016). For scholarly textbooks, journals, high school and college research papers in the humanities.
- The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010).
Copyeditors generally work to ensure that a text follows a particular style consistently, but may break the rules to honor the client’s preferences or for another good reason. Some clients have a house style guide that takes precedence over any of these manuals.
A plethora of print and online resources are available to help you develop and hone your editorial skills. Here are some recommendations from our members.
- The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 3rd ed., Amy Einsohn (University of California Press, 2011). Includes editing exercises.
- Developmental Editing: A Handbook for Freelancers, Authors, and Publishers, Scott Norton (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
- An Editor’s Guide to Working with Authors, Barbara Sjoholm (Rainforest Press, 2011)
- Editors on Editing, Gerald Gross (Grove Press). Several editions exist, each with essays by different editors.
- The McGraw-Hill Desk Reference for Editors, Writers and Proofreaders, K. D. Sullivan and Merilee Eggleston (McGraw-Hill, 2006). Includes editing exercises.
- The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself), 2nd ed., Carol Fisher Saller (University of Chicago Press, 2016).
- The Gregg Reference Manual: A Manual of Style, Grammar, Usage, and Formatting, 11th ed., William A. Sabin (McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2010)
- Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English, 3rd ed., Patricia T. O’Conner (Riverhead Books, 2009)
- Garner’s Modern American Usage, 4th ed., Bryan Garner (Oxford University Press, 2009)
- Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 2nd ed. (Merriam-Webster, 1994)
Web Editing and Online Editing
- Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, 3rd ed., Steve Krug (New Riders, 2014)
- “Reviewing Documents“: A helpful online guide to using Track Changes in Microsoft Word 2010, complete with video; useful for both editors and clients.
- The Elements of Typographic Style, 3rd ed., Robert Bringhurst (Hartley & Marks, 2004)
- The Non-Designer’s Design Book, 4th ed., Robin Williams (Peachpit Press, 2014)
Writing and Publishing
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott (Anchor, 1995)
- The Elements of Style, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White (Tribeca Books, 2012)
- How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th ed., Michael Larsen (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011).
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Zinsser (Harper Perennial, 2006)
- Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, Mark Kramer and Wendy Call, eds. (Plume, 2007)
- The Writer’s Portable Mentor, Priscilla Long (Wallingford Press, 2010)
- The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking, Brooke Borel (University of Chicago Press, 2016)
- The Fact-Checker’s Bible, Sarah Harrison Smith (Anchor Books, 2004)
Blogs and Websites
The Book Deal: An Inside View of Publishing
Copyediting: Because Language Matters
The Editor’s POV
Lisa Gold: Research Maven
The Subversive Copy Editor
If you’ve been through a regional or national editing or writing program that you think your fellow editors should know about, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can look into it. We all benefit from sharing information to improve each other’s skills!
Certificate in Editing from University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education
(Seattle, WA, and online)
This 6-8 month program is offered on evenings and weekends at the UW Seattle campus, as well as online, and covers the basics of editorial roles, grammar for editors, copyediting, and working with digital content, and finishes up with an applied editing practicum. Starts annually in October. See program website for current details.
Certificate in Copyediting from UC San Diego Extension
This 9-12 month program is offered online with classes quarterly. Required courses include a grammar lab and three successive quarters of copyediting training, with optional courses in marketing for copyeditors and digital skills for editors offered on a variable schedule. A free online information session is available quarterly for prospective students. See program website for current details.
The Keys to Effective Editing from Seattle Central College Continuing Education (via Ed2Go)
This six-week online course is offered online quarterly, with two lessons per week and a final exam. Subjects include the mechanics of copyediting, grammar and punctuation, syntax and style, fiction editing, and the author-editor-publisher relationship. See program website for current details.
The same program is also offered through Portland Community College.
Please note that there are some online reviews indicating that Mac users may not be able to fully participate in these programs.
Training Webinars and Certification Tests from Editors Canada
(Vancouver, BC, and online)
Editors Canada offers a wide range of online training webinars, open to non-members as well as members. In the late fall of 2017 upcoming courses included courses on WordPress, technical editing, time management for successful editors, estimating editorial costs, getting your self-published client to a finished product, editing award-winning proposals, and much more! See website for current details.
In addition to webinars, Editors Canada also offers a certification program. Certification tests on copyediting, stylistic editing, structural editing, and proofreading are offered on alternating years (2 tests per year) in November, and are located in Vancouver, BC (as well as in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax). At least five years of full-time professional editing experience is recommended prior to taking any of the tests. Learn more about the certification tests here.
Online Courses with the Editorial Freelancers Association
The Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) offers active online courses as well as recorded webinars, many of which are available to non-members as well as members. Active online courses include in late fall of 2017 included macros for editors, developmental editing of fiction, indexing basics, intermediate copyediting, and an introduction to children’s literature, while recorded sessions include such topics as academic editing, editing with inclusive language, ghostwriting, and technical communication.
Book Publishing at PSU
This graduate program at Portland State University is a master’s degree in writing with a specialization in book publishing, and includes a required course in book editing as well as courses in book design, book marketing, intellectual property and copyright law, and other publishing-related subjects. See program website for current details.
Technical Writing Certificate at Bellevue College
These courses can be taken either alone or as part of a Technical Writing Certificate program. Classes include fundamentals of document design, developing web content, and several courses on technical writing. The full certificate is completed in 15 weeks. See program website for current details.
Writing Courses at Hugo House
Hugo House in Seattle offers a catalog of courses for writers on various topics throughout the year. Offerings in late fall of 2017 included the healing power of personal narrative, a short fiction (500 words or less) lab, submission strategies, narrative balance, creative nonfiction, and a course called “Museum as Muse” in partnership with the Frye Art Museum. See website for current offerings.
If you have a Lynda.com account, a number of editing-related courses are available among this site’s professional training courses, including designing comic books and illustrated books, complete courses on using InDesign and Word, small business management, content marketing, various blogging platforms, project management, and more.
Seattle residents who have a library card can also access these courses and even download practice files for free by inputting their Seattle Public Library card number and PIN at this URL.