COMM 313: Editorial Processes
Instructor: Ross Collins, Ph.D.
This is summer session at North Dakota State University, Fargo. You are reading the syllabus for COMM 313, Editorial Processes. You may get in touch with instructor Ross Collins at 231-7295, or by stopping at Minard 321A. Summer office hours are by appointment, or just drop by. E-mail: Ross.Collins@ndsu.edu Recommended text: Baskette, Sissors, Brooks, The Art of Editing. Also recommended: Brooks and Pinson, Working With Words; Strunk and White, Elements of Style.
Note: because this is a short workshop-style class, purchase of the primary text, Baskette, et al., is not required. However, a copy will be on library reserve, and readings will be assigned. Students will need to complete the readings to prepare for the final exam, as several questions will be based on them.Course objectives announced
"My objective is to turn beginning mass communications students into precise and creative editors," said Collins. "Editing is critical for credibility and quality in any written publication." Collins added that the course would not only cover newspaper editing, but would emphasize editing for all sorts of publications, including newsletters, magazines and brochures.
Collins attendance policy:
What can you expect?
While some professors follow strict rules regarding attendance, Ross Collins believes students should be given the opportunity to make their own decisions. "I do not take roll," said Collins. "We're all adults here. You decide whether you want to come to class."
Collins warned, however, that lectures will not merely "parrot the text." He said he tries to add information not found in the book, or cover some areas in greater detail, so that students benefit from as much information as possible. "Of course, lecture material will be on the exams, so if you skip class, how will you learn that material?"
In addition the instructor notes that a number of in-class assignments will be given, using the class sessions to mimic the kinds of deadlines real editors face every day. "The deadline aspect means that you can't make up the work outside of class. So if you happen to miss that day, you have to take an F for the work."
Collins did admit with a sigh that students occasionally must skip class for good reasons. "So okay, I'll give you a break: miss one daily assignment, and at the end of the session, I'll drop the F from your final grade computation. Think of it as a bank account for emergencies." Collins warned, however, that the capstone pagination (InDesign) exercises could not be counted as part of the free skip assignment bank.
What to expect: assignments and examinations
You'll be doing much of your work on a computer using word processing and pagination programs. You'll need to prepare for one final exam. Graded class assignments will help you master the many skills you need to edit with precision.
The final grade will be based on:
Final exam, 200 pts.
Daily assignments, 200 pts.
Curve: 90-100=A, 80-89=B, etc.
Here are tools you'll need for COMM 313, Editorial Processes:
Highly recommended: AP Stylebook, published by the Associated Press.
Strunk and White, Elements of Style, Macmillan Publishing Co, 1979.
Note: If you need accommodations for learning or have special needs, please let the instructor know as soon as possible.
Note: Work in this course must adhere to the NDSU Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct. This addresses cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, or facilitating dishonesty. Instructors have the right to respond to a students dishonesty by failing the student for the particular assignment or test, or even the entire course, or recommend the student drop the course.
Good editors learn to pay keen attention to detail. To help you improve your own skills, the instructor offers you this challenge: for every error you find in any published material, you will receive ONE FREE POINT of extra credit. This includes typos, misspellings, fact errors, grammar errors, usage errors. (Style is not included, as it depends on the publication.) Just photocopy, identify the source, correct the error, and sign you name. Ten points (maximum) is worth an extra daily assignment, or make-up for assignments missed!
Introduction, importance of editing, editing marks, punctuation, style, spelling, word clutter, clichés, slow leads, accuracy, grammar, news values.
Readings from the text: to be assigned.
The pictures: working with photos and illustrations.
Typography, page design and layout, dummy sheets, copy flow and copy handling, computerized pagination, make-up.
Readings from the text: to be assigned.
Final exam is on the last day of class.Want to Know More?
Stephen Wilbers (my favorite writing columnist) on writing and editing: www.wilbers.com/index.
Dorothy Bowles and Diane Borden, Creative Editing. 2000.
Ernest Gowers, ed., Fowler's Modern English Usage. 1983 (but many editions
Return to resources page.