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Essentials of Language Editing

Instructor: Murugaraj Shanmugam

Duration: 13 weeks

Modules: 4

Skill Level: Beginner

Course Overview

“Essentials of Language Editing” is a specialization, a course of courses, to launch you into a successful copyediting career. The course covers the essentials of three important components of copyediting – grammar and style, punctuation, and MS Word. Each module/topic is supplemented with editing practice to provide the aspiring language editor a glimpse of editing. Select candidates may also receive an opportunity to work as interns with us.


While most of the topics of this course are applicable for editing any genre, our examples,  practice papers, assessments and editing internship are all designed around academic publishing.

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to find employment with any of the typesetting companies in India (here is a list of Indian typesetting companies) and abroad or become a freelancer. 

Who is this course for?

This is a great course for you if


you aspire to become a language editor


you are a style editor who wants to move ahead in your career


you are a language editor who is looking for a refresher course to reinforce your learning


you are contemplating career change to achieve work–life balance

What makes one a great copyeditor?

You can become a great copyeditor if


you are strong in grammar


you have a flair for reading


you have an eye for detail


you are inquisitive

(If you are inquisitive, here is a three-part article that illustrates these four qualities.)

How is the course delivered?

The course may be accessed via our learning portal, which includes learning material, practice quizzes, and assessments, via self-paced online modules. Discussions are held via an exclusive forum community.

Each week is complete in itself in that the learning week begins with a live session of the topic(s) of the week, followed by practice papers and assessment, and finally editing sample passages of the topic(s) covered in this week. Thus, each topic completes the full cycle of (1) introduction of the concepts, (2) reinforcement through practice, (3) validation through assessments and (4) application through editing samples.

Course Content

Module 1: Grammar & style

This module covers the basics of grammar and style required to carry out light editing with confidence. Topics include Engish and its variants, focussing on American and British English, subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement, article usage, review of basics as needed, abbreviations, numerals, names and terms, citations and cross-references

Module 2: Punctuation

Using a functional approach this module explores how various punctuation marks can be used to convey the intended message. Topics include mechanical aspects of comma, colon, hyphens and dashes; punctuating lists; combining clauses; end punctuation; quotations; and double punctuation.

Module 3: MS Word for editors

Microsoft Word being the most popular writing platform, this module covers the essential features that every editing beginner should know. Topics include setting user name, proofing language, track changes, comments, find and replace, as well as understanding the different layouts.

Module 4: Mentoring

The most important component of learning a skill is to practice. This module includes thoughtfully designed editing samples that cover the topics of learning. Previously enrolled learners have endorsed this module as an invaluable part of their learning.

Frequently asked questions

Who is this course for?

This course is ideal if

1. You are an aspiring copyeditor and want to learn copyediting systematically. The course provides you a strong foundation to build your copyediting career. I owe it to the initial training I received when I started my career and know how important such a foundation is.

2. You are an experienced copyeditor who mostly edits intuitively. While experience and mentorship have taught you copyediting, you might occasionally be uncertain when making editorial decisions. Sometimes, you might find it difficult to explain why you have edited it the way you edited it. The course will give you confidence in your editorial decisions and the ability to explain your edits when needed.

3. You are a style editor – as Indian typesetting companies working for academic publishers could call – and missed the opportunity to become a language editor by a whisker. If you believe you have the potential and want to upskill, this course provides the tools and the confidence to advance your career.

4. You are a writer and would want to provide your clients with a great copy that is error-free and communicates clearly. The course provides you with the right tools.

What is an instructor-led course, and how is different from the usual version?

The standard version is self-paced: you decide the time and pace of learning. Learning is completely flexible. The instructor-led version follows the same materials, but the mentor sets the pace. You are given weekly learning goals and learn as a group. Learning as a group and more time with the mentor offer you a better learning experience.

What is covered in this course, and how?

“Essentials of Language Editing” – as the name indicates – covers the most basic topics that will help you initiate your editing career. The course contains four modules: grammar and usage, punctuation, basics of style editing (such as using numerals and formatting), MS Word features for editors and mentoring.

How long does it take to complete this course?

Being instructor-led, this course will need 3 months to complete.

Is there a specific time for the classes?

Largely no. The course is structured as modules, lessons, topics, practice quizzes, and assessments and is available in our learning portal that you can access at your convenience. However, there will be periodic live sessions, which will usually fall on weekends or holidays. During these live sessions, we will discuss any questions you may have, from the topics you learned and the copyediting career in general.

Do I get editing practice in this training?

Yes – a big YES! The course is intuitively structured, so you get plenty of editing practice and are confident about copyediting a manuscript at the end of the training programme. Here is how the course is designed:

1. Each module (considered a standalone mini-course) is divided into lessons and topics.

2. Practice papers follow each topic to reinforce learning – for example, you learn a few rules and keep practising to master them.

3. Practice papers at the end of each lesson provide you practice on editorial decision-making – for example, you are given a set of sentences that is a mix of the topics covered in that lesson, giving you the practice to pick the correct rule to apply.

In these two cases, you know something is wrong, possibly where the error is too.

4. Each module has sample passages at its end. At this level, you are not presented with sentences with errors but a regular passage that you will edit – you analyse what is right and wrong and apply the relevant learning.

5. After completing the grammar & usage, punctuation and style editing modules, you enter the mentoring period. You edit 15 sample passages covering humanities and social sciences (HSS) and STEM backgrounds during this phase. Thus, by the time you complete the training, you will have edited around 30 sample passages.

Thus your learning shapes up so beautifully that you won’t even recognize that you are ready for editing.

When do I start editing actually?

You start editing passages from week 1! Editing passages is not reserved for the end. As and when you master a topic, you edit a passage too. The course has as many as 25 sample passages for editing. At the end of the training, you will be familiar with the academic style of writing, will have mastered the basic concepts for light editing, and be confident about editing live.

Does the course use everyday English examples? It would be easier to understand the concepts, if so.

Let me first tell you that this course specializes in academic editing, which is dominated by STEM (science, technology, engineering and medicine) publications. Every day-English examples would be a great idea to explain concepts, but you will look at a completely different way of writing in academic works. So the course uses a very minimal level of examples from everyday English and extensively uses example sentences and practice papers from academic works. This approach introduces you, the learner, to academic writing style. By the time you complete the training, you will have practised more than 1000 sentences and become familiar with this writing style. Thus, you would not be baffled by a sudden shift in the writing style if it were all everyday English examples.

Are there video lessons in the course?

As of now, there are no video lessons. While some modules may have, mostly, this is not video-based teaching-learning. Learning materials are available as modules, topics, practice quizzes and assessments.

Do I get a course certificate at the end of the course?

Yes, you do. Not just at the end of the course but at the end of every module. When you complete a module, you earn a course certificate. Every accomplishment needs to be honoured and celebrated – why wait until the end? It is a good idea to flaunt each of your accomplishments, so recruiters and prospective clients know you are serious and systematic!

Course Instructor

Murugaraj Shanmugam

Founder, Editor’s Essentials

Murugaraj Shanmugam has been a copyeditor for nearly 20 years, in most part of which he trained and set up copyediting teams for typesetting companies in India. He has been an independent trainer since 2018 when he founded Editor’s Essentials.

Instructor: Murugaraj Shanmugam

Duration: 13 weeks

Modules: 4

Skill Level: Beginner