Go to class resources.

More online readings: Ross F. Collins, Weird Ways of News.


COMM 313, Editorial Processes (online)

Three credits.

Instructor: Ross F. Collins, Ph.D., professor of communication, North Dakota State University, Fargo.

Email: ross.collins@ndsu.edu

Telephone: (701) 231-7295. You may call anytime during the day Monday-Friday, but I usually respond more quickly to email. For online students I will also usually responsd by email on weekends and evenings as well as during the week. As this is an online class, I can't (usually) meet with you in person, so am happy to do my best to respond quickly. If I'll be away from email for a few days, I'll let you know by Blackboard announcement. I will make announcements on Blackboard at least once a week, more often during the four-week summer session. (See below for four-week schedule.)

Instructor's website: www.rossfcollins.com Note: Readings and assignments posted to the university's Blackboard class management website are mirrored on this site. Choose the Classes link, choose Editing for links. A password is not required. However, note that assignments for grading need to be submitted on the class Blackboard site, and not be email.

Required text: Ross F. Collins, ed., Editing Across Media. Content and Process for Print and Online Publication (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2013). Note: book sale proceeds help fund NDSU communication student scholarships. Note: a Facebook page is available in conjunction with this text. "Like" to learn more about editing, and have the opportunity to see sample exam questions.

A number of readings will also be assigned, as indicated.

Recommended texts: Brooks, Pinson and Wilson, Working with Words. A Handbook for Media Writers and Editors. 8th ed., 2013. Associated Press, AP Stylebook. Choose the most recent edition.

About InDesign: This class's basic online InDesign tutorials should be adequate for students in this beginning editing class. If you feel you need more in-depth study, you may wish to purchase a supplementary text. Many publishers offer books covering InDesign, but for cash-strapped editing students in a hurry, I prefer those from the Dummies and Visual QuickStart series. Many online resources also are available, including videos--my own as well as others on YouTube.

Course objectives

This course is designed to offer a general overview of basic knowledge and practical skills an editor needs to prepare publications for mass-media consumption. This includes editing for newspapers, magazines, newsletters, brochures and other publications and, of course, online content editing. Students are introduced to a variety of functions required of editors, including working with words, pictures, design and make-up. This is a highly practical course, offering students knowledge they will likely use no matter what mass media career they choose. Topics covered include:

Students who have completed the course should have a reasonably comprehensive understanding of duties expected of professional editors in mass media, and be able to edit professionally at a basic level.

Bulletin description

Principles of print media copy editing, headline composition, publication design, photo editing, and computer editing.

Projects and examinations

Students complete a set of basic readings, and have the opportunity to put their knowledge to work through a variety of exercises and projects. A comprehensive final examination is required, and will cover the textbook, supplementary readings, exercises, videos and other course material.

Tools students need

If working off campus: computer with reasonably fast internet connection for online class use. Ability to download PDF files, and to upload assignments to the instructor on the university's Blackboard class management software. Word or other word processing software. Access to InDesign computerized pagination software for at least a month to cover the design and make-up section of the course.

If working on campus at North Dakota State University: All university clusters include the required software and connections. Use of the Macintosh platform is suggested, as it better reflects the mass media industry standard, but PCs are all right.

Finding InDesign: Design and make-up exercises are based on computerized pagination software commonly used by editors. If you do not have access to these, you often can find them at libraries, quick print shops, schools and universities. Adobe.com sometimes offers a trial version. Most editors find experience in computerized pagination ("desktop publishing") necessary to complete their jobs, particularly working on smaller publications and in public relations capacities. Reminder: You must have access to InDesign to complete the capstone requirements for this course.

The final grade will be based on:

Exercises: 200 pts.

Design/editing capstone exercises: 150 pts.

Final exam: 250 pts.

Total: 600 pts. Actual point totals may be slightly above or below, based on possible alterations to course materials.

Grade percentages:





Below 60=F

Deadlines: This course is generally not self-paced. Students are expected to finish within the term. Assignment deadlines associated with the sections below are indicated when the assignments are made, and need to be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the deadline day.

Late assignments: Students who submit late assignments must realize the instructor will deduct the equivalent of one letter grade or more, depending on how late. He hopes this slightly draconian rule will dissuade online students from the inevitable temptation to procrastinate when enrolled in online classes. It also certainly reflects industry standards built around tight, inflexible deadlines. In the media industry you inevitably work against the clock.

Section overviews

Section One: Words

Section Two: Headlines and headings

Section Three: Design and make-up

Academic honesty statement

If your work is precisely the same as another student's--either from this semester or last year--I will presume it's probably not a coincidence. Obvously you can consult with other students to help you complete the daily assignments, but I expect you to actually turn in your own work. I rely on the honor system. I can't force students to do their own work in an online course, but generally as exercises become more complicated, I won't give credit to students who submit identical, or nearly identical, work.

Official university notices

If you need accommodations for learning or have special needs, please let the instructor know as soon as possible.

The academic community is operated on the basis of honesty, integrity, and fair play. NDSU Policy 335: Code of Academic Responsibility and Conduct applies to cases in which cheating, plagiarism, or other academic misconduct have occurred in an instructional context. Students found guilty of academic misconduct are subject to penalties, up to and possibly including suspension and/or expulsion. Student academic misconduct records are maintained by the Office of Registration and Records. Informational resources about academic honesty for students and instructional staff members can be found at www.ndsu.edu/academichonesty.

Instructor's background

Professor Ross F. Collins holds a Ph.D. in journalism history (University of Cambridge, 1992). He combines academic background in history with a decade of media experience, work in media writing, photojournalism, editing, design and public relations. He has worked as a newspaper copy editor, and has edited several publications. He currently serves as senior editor of the university's publishing division, the Institute for Regional Studies Press. His research interests include World War I history, French journalism history and United States frontier journalism history. He is former treasurer of American Journalism Historians Association, and a member of the American Copy Editors Society. For a complete vita and other student resources, visit his website, www.rossfcollins.com.

Other resources

Want to test your editing skills with a real-world quiz? Complete one of the the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Editing internship program tests, self-scoring, to see how you'd do! (Consult the Blackboard announcements page for possible extra credit opportunities.)

Tentative Schedules

Full semester: 16 weeks.

Week One: Read textbook (Editing Across Media) Introduction and chapter 1; Ross F. Collins, Weird Ways of News, online textbook, Introduction and chapters 1 and 2; online lecture synopses 1-2; online readings 1-2. Review PowerPoints 1 and 2. Watch warmup video, "The Drama of Editing." No assignment.

Week Two: Section One (the words). Read textbook chapter 2; online reading 3; online lecture synopsis 3. Review PowerPoints three to five. Submit Activity One.

Week Three: Read online reading 4 and Weird Ways of News, chapters 3-4. Submit Activity Two.

Week Four: Read online readings 5-6 (includes four podcasts). Submit Section One, exercises one and two.

Week Five: Read textbook chapter 3; online readings 7-9. Review "Sneaky Word List" and "Proofreader's Marks." Submit Section One, exercises three and four.

Week Six: Read online readings 10-11. Submit Section One, exercises five and six. Extra credit: proofreading marks.

Week Seven: Read textbook chapter 4; online reading 12; Weird Ways of News, chapters 5-8. Submit Section One, exercises seven, eight and nine.

Week Eight: Section Two: headlines and headings. Read textbook chapter 5; online readings 13-14; online lecture synopsis 4. Submit Section Two, exercise one. Review headline unit count.

Week Nine: Submit Section Two, exercise two. Extra credit: headline unit count.

Week 10: Read online readings 15-16. Submit Section Two, exercise three.

Week 11: Section Three: photography, layout and makeup. Read textbook chapters 6-7; online reading 17; online lecture synopsis 5-7. Submit Section Three, exercise one, dummy sheet/copy control sheet (submit as scanned copy or hard copy), and excerise one(a), cutlines.

Week 12: Read textbook chapters 8-9; online reading 18 (InDesign tutorial with podcasts). Submit Section Three, exercise two(a), a flyer or newsletter page (pdf format). Extra credit: photo proportioning using Photoshop.

Week 13: Read textbook chapter 10-11. Begin work on Section Three, exercise two(b), a broadsheet (first capstone assignment; submit as pdf).

Week 14: Submit broadsheet assignment by 11:59 p.m. Monday of this week. Begin work on Section Three, exercise two(c), a newsletter (second capstone assignment; submit as pdf).

Week 15: Work on newsletter.

Week 16: Submit newsletter by 11:59 p.m. Friday of this week (last week of class). Review for final exam. You may request the final as soon as all your other assignments are complete. It is due 5 p.m. on the last day of finals week.


Summer session: eight weeks.

(Class resources page for the list below is at www.rossfcollins.com/313editing/313resources13.htm. Links to weekly readings will also be available Mondays on the class Blackboard site.)

Week One:

Begin Section One (the words).

Readings: Editing Across Media Introduction and chapters 1-2; Ross F. Collins, Weird Ways of News (online textbook,) Introduction and chapters 1-2. Online lecture synopses 1-2; Online readings 1-3. Review PowerPoints 1 and 2, if you wish. Watch warmup video, "The Drama of Editing."

Assignments: Activity One. (Reminder: all submission deadlines are 11:59 p.m. Friday of the week assigned, unless otherwise noted. Submit to Blackboard, not email.)

Week Two:

Readings: Online lecture synopsis 3; online readings 4-6. Note: Reading 6 includes four videos covering grammar; review, if you would like more explanation. Review PowerPoints 3 and 4, if you wish. Watch introductory grammar video, "Ross's Big 5."

Assignments: Activity Two. Section One, exercises one, two and three.

Week Three:

Readings: Editing Across Media, Chapter 3; online readings 7-11. Review "Sneaky Word List" and "Proofreader's Marks." Weird Ways of News, chapter 7.

Assignments: Section One, exercises four, five and six.

Week Four:

End Section One, begin Section Two (headlines and headings).

Readings: Editing Across Media, chapters 4-5; Online lecture synopsis 4; online readings 12-14; Weird Ways of News, chapters 5 and 8.

Assignments: Section One, exercises seven, eight and nine. Section Two, Exercise One. Extra credit: proofreading marks.

Week Five:

Readings: Editing Across Media, chapter 6; lecture synopses 5-6; online readings 15-16.

Assignments: Section Two, exercises two and three. Extra credit: headline unit count.

Week Six:

Begin Section Three (photography, layout and make-up).

Readings: Editing Across Media, chapters 7-9; lecture synopsis 7; online readings 17-18. Weird Ways of News, chapter 6.

Assignments: Section Three Exercise One, dummy sheet; Exercise One(a), writing cutlines; Exercise Two(a), newletter page. Extra credit: photo proportioning using Photoshop.

Week Seven:

Readings: Editing Across Media, chapters 10-11.

Assignments: Section Three, Exercise Two(b), broadsheet.

Week Eight:

Readings: none; review readings to prepare for final exam, if necesssary.

Assignments: Section Three, Part Two, Exercise Three (newsletter). Final exam. You may request the (open-book) final exam as soon as your other assignments are complete.

Final exam due on or before 11:59 p.m. Friday.


Summer session: four weeks.

Dates for Summer 2015 indicated below. Exercises are due 11:59 p.m. the day after they are assigned, unless otherwise indicated.

If you wish, you may also watch the PowerPoint presentations. These are linked to the class resources page. The instructor's online discussion of media writing, "Weird Ways of News," is also available from the class resources page.

Week One (May 19-22)
Tuesday: Section One (the words), Readings one, two, and three, Activity One. Watch warm-up YouTube video, The Drama of Editing. Read editing textbook introduction. Review sneaky words and proofreader's marks (class resources page).
Wednesday: Section One, Reading Four, Activity Two and Exercise One. Read editing textbook Chapter One. Watch YouTube video, Ross's Top Five Grammar Errors.
Thursday: Section One, readings five and six with accompanying videos, Exercise Two. Read editing textbook Chapter Two.
Friday: Section One, readings seven, eight, nine, exercises three and four. Extra credit: proofreader's marks exercise.

Week Two (May 26-29)
Tuesday (Monday is Memorial Day, but feel free to work on your COMM 313 projects): Section One, readings 10 and 11, exercises five and six. Read editing textbook Chapter Three.
Wednesday: Section One, readings 12 and 13, Exercise Seven. Read editing textbook chapters four and 10.
Thursday: Section One, exercises eight and nine. Read editing textbook Chapter Five. Supplementary online reading: English: The Packrat's Dream.
Friday: Section Two (headlines and headings), Reading 14, Exercise One. Extra credit: headline unit count exercise.

Week Three (June 1-5)
Monday: Reading 15; Section Two, Exercise Two. Read editing textbook Chapter Six. Supplementary online reading: 10 Common Typographic Pitfalls.
Tuesday: Reading 16; Exercise Three and Exercise One(a) writing cutlines. Read editing textbook Chapter Seven.
Wednesday: Reading 17 and dummy sheet video; Section Three (layout and makeup), Part One, Exercise One, dummy sheet/copy control sheet. Read editing textbook Chapter Eight.
Thursday: Section Three, Part Two, Reading 18 (InDesign tutorial and videos); Exercise Two(a), newsletter page. Read editing textbook chapter Nine.
Friday: Begin Section Three, Exercise Two(b), broadsheet (due Monday). Read editing textbook Chapter 11. Extra credit: Photo proportioning using Photoshop exercise.

Week Four (June 8-12)
Monday: Wrap up broadsheet, due 11:59 p.m. today.
Tuesday: Begin capstone project; Section Three, Exercise Three, newsletter (due Thursday).
Wednesday: Work on newsletter.
Thursday: Wrap up newsletter, due 11:59 p.m. today. Study for final exam.
Friday: Last day of four-week summer session. Final exam. You may request the (open-book) final exam as soon as all your other assignments are complete, but it must be returned by 11:59 p.m. today.