English 407

ENGL 407: Technical Editing

Prerequisites: ENGL 306

Three hours lecture (3)

Prepares students to analyze the readability of technical documents written in the workplace (e.g., instructions, manuals, abstracts, proposals), and to deal with problems of correctness, consistency, clarity, organization and rhetorical effectiveness of language and layout. Realistic weekly assignments include excerpts from technical manuals, insurance and government documents, instructions and reports.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

The course emphasizes audience and purpose in analyzing and improving the verbal and visual characteristics of a text. Students examine the rhetorical situation of writer, subject, audience, and purpose in different types of documents.

Students edit a variety of documents intended for different audiences, addressing global issues such as content, organization, rhetorical effectiveness in text and graphics, and consistency, and local issues such as appropriateness of diction, pace, and sentence clarity, conciseness, and correctness. Such documents may include proposals, reports, documentation, correspondence, and news releases drawn from a range of fields.

  • Students learn to edit graphics as well as text as they examine documents from aerospace, software development, and other fields.
  • Students study grammar and punctuation to be able to correct problems in a document but also to explain why they made changes, and they are tested on grammar and punctuation.
  • Students learn to use copyediting marks correctly and become familiar with the degrees of edit. Students also learn how to proofread effectively.
  • Students study principles of effective web and print document design and write a report offering suggestions to improve an internet website.
  • Students learn about the editor’s role in producing online and print documents, including project management, and budgeting and scheduling publications, as well as editing, proofreading, and rewriting.

Supplementary assignments may include working directly with an author on a technical manuscript, editing a document online rather than on hard copy, and evaluating grammar-checking programs.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture and instructor-led discussion of the text and assignments.

Goals and Objectives of Course

Students will learn how to:

  • Macro-edit a document for content, organization, and format.
  • Micro-edit a document for correctness and controlling the complexity of the document so that it is appropriate for its intended audience(s).
  • Use the editing and proofreading symbols correctly.
  • Determine what to do at what point in editing and proofreading.
  • Staff, schedule, and estimate the cost of publication projects.
  • Work collaboratively with writers on a document.
  • Explain how their editorial changes improve a document.
  • Offer suggestions to writers to improve a document’s focus, content, and organization.

Assessment Measures

The tests on grammar and punctuation, the editing exercises, and other assigned work will be graded to monitor the student’s progress and determine his or her grade in the course.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval

March 27, 2017
October, 2009