Technical and Science Editing


Spring '16-17

Lawrence Souder, Ph.D.

Voice: 215-895-2730

Classroom: online

Office Hours: by appointment

Office/mailbox: 3201 Arch Street, Suite 100

E-mail: LS39 @

Description: Editors have a challenging job because their work can invoke in their writers a wide range of feelings: from indifference to resentment. For this reason editors must understand not just the process of correcting and revising the written word, but also the politics and psychology of working with writers and clients. Through studying the current state of the art of editing, examining case studies of professional editorial settings, and conversing directly with practicing editors, students in this course will explore within the field of editing such topics as:

This course articulates with the content and goals of other courses in the Department of Communication, specificially COM310 (Technical Communication) and COM320 (Science Communication).

Objectives: If you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:

 *Relevance to Drexel Student Learning Priorities

Text: Carolyn D. Rude, Technical Editing, 5th Edition, Longman, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0-20578671-8.

Assignments: Each week in this course will require you to prepare a reading and a writing assignment. Most readings are chapters from the textbook. Click on the chapter designators in the Reading Due column of the Assignment Schedule for study guide questions to help you focus on their key terms and concepts.

Most writing assignments are opportunities to apply the perspectives and principles explicated in the textbook to your own projects. Click on the items in the Writing Due column of the Assignment Schedule for specific details. Because the emphasis in this course is on professional editing, you will be expected to be sensitive to the importance of deadlines. For this reason, late assignments will be penalized one letter grade increment for each class day late.

Grading: In this course you can receive a maximum of 1000 points. Your final grade will be computed on the basis of the following components:

Weekly editing exercises
100 points
Quizzes  200 points
Lectures (Graduate) 200 points
Project 1 (Undergraduate)100 points
Project 2 (Undergraduate)100 points
Project 3 200 points
Project 4 300 points

Grading Scale: Scores and grades will be computed as follows:
A+: 1000 – 967 points = 4.00C+: 799 – 767 points = 2.33
A:   966 – 933 points = 4.00C:  766 – 733 points = 2.00
A-:  932 – 900 points = 3.67C-: 732 – 700 points = 1.67

B+:  899 – 867 points = 3.33
D+: 699 – 667 points = 1.33
B:   866 – 833 points = 3.00D:  666 – 600 points = 1.00
B-:  832 – 800 points = 2.67F:  599 – 0  points  = 0.00

Academic Honesty: It is assumed that the work you submit for this course, whether written or spoken, is your own. Any attempt to represent someone else's work as your own will be considered plagiarism. See the University's policy on plagiarism--a form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism includes copying another student's work on papers or tests, copying without attribution the ideas or words from published sources, and submitting papers written in previous semesters. Such academic misconduct will result in a failing grade for the assignment, a probable failing grade for the course, and a report to the Dean for possible disciplinary action.

Special Needs: Students with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVLs are issued by the Office of Disability Services (ODS. For additional information, contact the ODS at, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299.

Other resources for students with special needs are available from the following:

Course Add/Drop/Withdrawal: Refer to the University's policies to add/drop or to withdraw from this course.

Assignment Schedule

Week Topic Reading* Writing
1 The context of editing 1 [in-class sample]
2 Readers and Users; Client projects 2; 24
3 Writers and Editors; Legal and ethical issues 3; 21  
4 Comprehensive editing 1 17; 14 Client Project - R1
5 Comprehensive editing 2 15; 16  
6 Editing tools and methods 4; 5; 6 Client Project - R2
7 Copyediting 1 7; 8; 9  
8 Copyediting 2 10; 11 Client Project - R3
9 Proofreading 13  
10     Client Project - R4

*Numbers refer to chapters in Rude's Technical Editing, 5th edition.


Report 1: Client Profile

After your first meeting with the client, write a site visit report to me in which you create a profile of your client.

Length: 500 - 750 words

1. In anticipation of your first meeting with the client, gather as much information as you can about the client's mission, values, goals, and clientele.
2. Consult a standard textbook on technical writing and review the general characteristics of the type of document that your client needs to be edited.
3. During your meeting with the client clarify and supplement the two issues above to create a complete profile of the client and the document.
4. After your meeting write a formal report to me in which you describe the client and the role that the document plays in the client's operations.

Report 2: Editing Analysis

After you have obtained the client's document, write an editing analysis in which you create a plan for your work. The point of this report is to propose what you will do to the document and why.

Length: 500 - 750 words

1. Review the audience, purpose, and type of document.
2. Analyze the document with respect to the four rubrics: content, form, style, and mechanics.
3. Write up the results of your editing analysis as a formal recommendation report to me.
4. Organize the rubrics into two groups: comprehensive editing and copyediting.
For each rubric include at least one illustrative example from the client's text.
N.B.: Remember that in addition to making changes to make a document more readable, editors must justify those changes. Convincing justifications are a matter of using standards of effective writing and the jargon of professional writers and editors.

Report 3: Progress Report

Halfway through your work on the client's document you will assess the status of your editing. The point of this report is to reflect on how you and the client feel about the editing of the document up to this point and to describe how the work will be completed.

Length: 750 - 1000 words

1. In anticipation of your meeting with the client collect at least one example of a change you made to the document in each of the four rubrics: content, form, style, and mechanics.

2. Formulate your explanations of precisely what changes you made and why you made them.

3. Convey these explanations to the client during your meeting, acknowledge any differences in opinion over them, and negotiate any changes that might be necessary in order for you and the client to agree about the completion of the work.

4. After your meeting with the client write a formal progress report to me in which you explain: (1) what has been accomplished to date; (2) what changes if any were negotiated with the client; (3) what remains to be done; and (4) how the project will be completed. Be sure to include specific examples from the text and from your conversation with the client to illustrate the points in your report.

Report 4: Final Report

Length: 750 - 1000 words

After your meeting with the client to hand off the document, write a formal progress report to me in which you explain:

(1) what has been accomplished
(2) what changes after the first edit, if any, were negotiated with the client
(3) how you have added value to the project

Be sure to include specific examples from the text and from your conversation with the client to illustrate the points in your report.