English 6721
Copyediting for Professional Communicators
Fall 2010


Dr. Michael Albers
Office Bate 2110
Office phone: 252-328-6374
Office hours: TT 12:00-1:00 or by appointment.
Schedule: I'm teaching two online courses, so making an appointment to see me works best.
Email: albersm@ecu.edu

I will respond promptly to emails, but normally do not return phone calls.

Policy Statement

You are required to read the policy statement and follow the schedule. There is no excuse for not knowing information contained within them.

The information on the course web page takes precedence over any printed copy you may have made. Material on the web site subject to change. I reserve the right to modify any and all units until they are the current unit. In other words, do not try to print out everything at the beginning of the term and only use that information.


Reading material is available on the course web site.

Computer access

You will need an email account. You can use any email account; you are not required to use your ECU account.

Your computer must a recent release of a browser. The browser must accept cookies (if you don't know, it probably does).

You will need a copy of Adobe Reader It's probably already installed, but download a copy here if you can't open a PDF file.

Course assignments assume you have Microsoft Word or equivalent. Microsoft Works will not work. If you don't have Microsoft Office, you can use OpenOffice (it's free but a 107meg download) and mostly the same feature set. You can also get access to Microsoft Office via the ECU virtual computing lab. (I think). It also has Adobe Acrobat so you create PDF files, as well as Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator, which we will not be using.

You may also find a scanner useful for the first few weeks of class. I wouldn't buy one just for this class, but if you've been debating getting one, now is a good time.

Class Philosophy

This course will introduce you to the basic principles of editing documents for grammar, syntax, organization, professional style, emphasis, and audience awareness. The course will focus on the common methods of marking documents using established symbols and conventions as well as electronic methods of editing. We'll also cover distinguishing between grammatical and stylistic comments; principles of contextual editing; basic editorial activities; methods for analyzing, critiquing, and revising manuscripts for different audiences; and techniques for creating successful writer/editor dialogue. Note that this is a techncial editing class and not journalism editing.

This course allows you the opportunity to investigate different styles and style manuals and will ask you to create documents using styles to demonstrate your comprehension of the various formats and conventions. We'll also discuss the role of the editor in organizational settings and ethical issues in editing. The course objectives are

While working on editing problems will certainly help you with your own writing (both stylistically and mechanically), I'm assuming that you all have a good grasp of English grammar. However, if you have any problems or questions about grammar issues or about grammar terms, let me know.

Discussion Policy

Use of the discussion board

I expect you to contribute to the class on-line discussions. The entire class must participate in the discussion. This is the same as participating in a regular class. However, being an on-line course, the only way I know you are working on the material is by what you contribute.

You will not receive credit for the weeks you do not participate in the discussions.
Weeks you post an initial response but don't respond to anyone else qualifies as minimal participation.

Note that class discussion does make up a substantial part of your grade. I have had past students drop from a B to a C because a low class discussion grade. You will not get a good grade if you simply do the homework and major assignments and don't participate in the class discussion. Likewise, you will not get a good grade if you wait until everyone else has posted and simply rehash what was said or say "I agree."

It is imperative that you contact me if an emergency occurs which will keep you from meeting the class schedule. I am unwilling to repeat material or give individual help to students who missed due dates because of an unexcused absence. (I am more than willing to work with you for excused absences.)

Points for the Course

Class discussion 30%

Book copyedit


Weekly editing assignments


Editing of research paper


Research paper or editing project


Grading guidelines

Demonstrates a superior analysis of the assignment; excellent attention to the content, organization, design, and style that addresses both the practical and rhetorical requirements of the particular situation. Excellent choice and use of editing concepts, guidelines, and styles.Organization and design is appropriate for the communication goals. Free of grammar and punctuation errors.
Demonstrates thorough, well-organized analysis of the assignment. Shows judgment and skill in the presentation of material appropriate for the situation. Supports ideas well with concrete details. Generally effective use of editing concepts, guidelines, and styles. Althought the organization and design is appropriate for the communication goals, it contains some flaws. The wording or sentence structure is ambiguous and impairs the communication. The document is written for the proper audience but has trouble addressing that audience. Less than perfect grammar and mechanics.
Shows understanding of editing concepts, guidelines, and styles, though application may not be consistent throughout document. Nothing remarkably good or bad about the work. The overall organization and design impede the communication and may be inapproriate for the document type. The audience is not clear. Many grammar and mechanics errors. Paragraph and sentence structure is poor.
Organization and design are inapproriate for the document. No sense of audience.Shows generally substandard work with some redeeming features. Little evidence of of revision or attention to detail. Serious grammar and mechanics errors. Paragraph and sentence structure is poor.
Fails to meet minimal criteria for the assignment.

Discussion grading

The discussion makes up a substantial part of your grade. Failing to participate or always being late (which really is the same as not participating) can severly effect your final grade.

Provided thoughtfu answers which shows a clear understanding of the material. Contributed to ongoing discussions through responses to other people's comments. The quality of the answer makes it clear you have read the material..
Provided an adequate number of discussion comments. The overall quality ranged from very good to adequate. Contributed to ongoing discussions through responses to other people's comments.

Comments addressed the topic, but were often lacking in adequate content. (Such as a two sentence summary of the reading with no additional contribution.) Contributions to the ongoing discussion were inadequate or not made. It is obvious that you have not read or do not understand the material.

Consistently only posting on late Thursday or Friday.


Most comments say nothing. Comments were mostly devoid of relevant content, off topic, or didn't contribute anything new. Repeating other people's comments, or consistent comments such as "I agree" with no other content.

Consistently posting only an initial response with no follow-up responses to other student's posts.

Not participating at all.

Turning in and formatting assignments

You will be emailing me assignments as an email attachment. You can send me a PDF, so you can check that what I see is what you edited.

In the email provide your name and title of project or course in the subject line. Do not paste work into an email. Do not use the Blackboard dropbox.

The filename for all assignment must start with your last name. (Example albers-typography.doc). It's very hard to sort out assignments when I have 16 files named typography.doc. Incorrect files may be returned and late penalties apply until you correctly submit it.

In general, each units discussion list posts should come early in the unit. Do not wait until the last day to make your initial posts.

Since a complete schedule is provided on the course web page, you are responsible to know when all work is due.

Make backup copies of all your work while it is in progress and before you submit them for grades. Save a backup copy of all work. The excuse that work was lost or late because of a lost or bad disk will not be accepted. I recommend using a flash drive as a backup. Be paranoid and assume you will experience a computer failure during the course. Likewise, an excuse that you did the assignment at work and then someone deleted it because you share computers is also not acceptable.

Late Papers

All assignments for a unit are due at at the end of day on the last day of the unit on the schedule or as listed on the schedule. They are considered late if turned in after that time. Of course, you can turn material in early.

One full letter grade (10 points) will be deducted for every day, including weekends, an assignment is late. Papers over five days late (including weekends) are not accepted and receive a zero.

Special Circumstances

East Carolina University seeks to comply fully with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Students requesting accommodations based on a disability must be registered with the Department for Disability Support Services located in Slay 138 ((252) 737-1016 (Voice/TTY)).

Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

Plagiarism is offering the work of another as your own, without proper acknowledgment. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will be treated based on the East Carolina University Code of Conduct. At the minimum, plagiarized work results in a failing grade for the course. I also have the option of reporting the plagiarism to the appropriate University authorities.

Academic integrity is expected of every East Carolina University student. Academic honor is the responsibility of the students and faculty of East Carolina University.  Please refer to the ECU Student Handbook for further information on ECU’s policy on academic integrity.  This policy will be strictly enforced.

Emergency Weather

In the event of a weather emergency, information can be accessed through the following sources: ECU emergency notices www.ecu.edu/alert <http://www.ecu.edu/alert>  or the ECU emergency information hotline at 252-328-0062. Of course, as an online course, the weather is sort of irrelevant and a snowstorm can give you time to get more class work done.