The discipline of editing is both a science and an art; editors use principles of grammar, English usage, composition, and design as they work with authors to improve manuscripts. By completing the editing minor, students show potential employers that they have followed a well-thought-out curriculum that has given them a theoretical base for editing plus substantial mentoring and practice in editing skills; the editing minor also provides students with considerable knowledge of the publishing industry.
Aims of the editing minor
In keeping with the aims of a BYU education, the editing minor strives to cultivate in its students the attitude that editing is primarily service-oriented. Upon achieving an editing minor, students will have received an education that harmonizes with the aims of BYU in the following ways:
Spiritually strengthening—Recognizing that publishers serve as communication gatekeepers, students will explore how editors can meet the expectations of their employers while they remain morally responsible to society and ultimately to God for the accuracy and ethical soundness of the materials they edit as well as the values and attitudes promoted thereby. They will explore how service to authors and readers can be service to God.
Intellectually enlarging—Editing is a lifelong pursuit of learning. Students will learn to make information and ideas more accessible to the general public by helping authors communicate that information and those ideas with readers.
Character building—In mediating between the wishes of the author, the needs of the audience, the desires of the publisher, and the forces of the marketplace, editors must maintain integrity and respect. Students will learn to become selfless editors, serving the needs of others above their own desires.
Lifelong learning and service—Students will learn to appreciate the service that editing provides. As editors, students will grow and change under the service of their chosen careers, allowing them to give back to their communities.
Goals of the editing minor
Students who successfully complete a minor in editing will have developed the following attributes:
• A sound knowledge of the structure and use of the English language, so that they can better understand how to help authors improve their use of the language in their manuscripts.
• Copyediting and substantive editing skills that they have practiced using to improve manuscripts.
• Training in specialized skills and the perspective required by an editing genre.
• Familiarity with the software commonly used in editing and publishing.
• A broad background both in publishing as an industry and in the processes outside of editing that are part of publishing, such as graphic design, printing technology, and the business side of publishing; students will also be familiar with the history of publishing and its technology.
• Knowledge of the ethical issues in publishing, such as plagiarism, copyright infringement, preserving the author’s voice, the tensions between the editorial and marketing sides of publishing, the promotion of values, the gatekeeping role of publishers, and the transmission of our cultural heritage.
• A desire to continue learning more about language, editing skills, computer skills, the ethics of publishing, and the associated processes of publishing.
Why minor in editing?
The minor in editing is designed primarily for students who wish to develop careers in book, journal, and magazine publishing, but the editing skills that students learn can be applied in many other communication settings. Since all disciplines publish, the editing minor enriches any major on campus. The editing minor may be used as a terminal degree for a career in editing, publishing, or communications or as preparation for research and publishing in graduate school. The skills that students learn will also serve them well in other pursuits, such as writing personal and family histories. Students who have completed the editing minor at BYU have found jobs with a wide variety of organizations, including book and journal publishers, magazine and newsletter publishers, editing services, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, libraries, museums, scientific and technical organizations, advertising organizations, consulting firms, and corporations of all types.
BYU editing students have found employment using their skills with many types of companies:
• Book and journal publishers
• Magazine and newsletter publishers
• Scholarly publishers and university presses
• Editing services
• Electronic publishing
• Nonprofit organizations
• Government agencies
• Computer and software companies
• Scientific and technical organizations
• Advertising agencies
• Any corporation or organization that needs web or print communication specialists
Some editing students use this training as preparation for other careers:
• Freelance editing
• Website development
• Advertising and marketing
• Creative writing
• Nonfiction writing
• Research and publishing in graduate school
• Writing personal and family histories
The editing minor is challenging and rigorous: the minor includes three courses in the history, theory, and structure of English; three courses in editing skills (plus some introduction to other aspects of the publishing industry); and one course in related computer skills.
Required courses (21 hours)
ELang 223: Introduction to the English Language (3 credits) Overview of English as a language, emphasizing structure; prerequisite for ELang 322 and 325
ELang 322: Modern American Usage (3 credits) Current conventions and effective use of American English; prerequisite for ELang 350 and 410R
ELang 325: English Grammar (3 credits) Study of English grammar in various applications; prerequisite for ELang 350 and 410R
ELang 350: Basic Editing Skills (3 credits) Editing theory and practice, emphasizing copyediting; prerequisite for ELang 430R
ELang 410R: Genre and Substantive Editing (3 credits) Substantive editing applied in the context of a particular genre of publishing; each section will consider a different genre, such as scholarly, trade, magazine, fiction, or technical publishing; prerequisite for ELang 430R
CHum 230: Print Publishing 1 (3 credits) Applying computer technology to publishing in print media: books, journals, newsletters, magazines, etc.; prerequisite for ELang 430R
ELang 430R: Editing for Publication (3 credits) Refining copyediting and substantive editing skills through hands-on work on actual publications, with one-on-one feedback and mentoring; includes a survey of publishing issues and topics
ELang 351R: Editing Student Journals (1 or 2 credits)
ELang 399R: Academic Internship (up to 9 credits)
ELang 421R: Studies in Editing (section on Children’s Publishing each Winter semester; watch for other topics)
CHum 250: Electronic Publishing (3 credits)
CHum 330: Print Publishing 2 (3 credits)
StDev 317: Career Strategies
Suggested sequence of courses
Semester 1: ELang 223
Semester 2: ELang 322* & ELang 325*
Semester 3: ELang 350†
Semester 4: ELang 410R† & CHum 230†
Semester 5: ELang 430R
* Students must declare the minor, complete (or be enrolled in) these courses (ELang 322 and 325), and visit the College of Humanities Advisement Center (1175 JFSB) to be given permission to enroll in ELang 350 and 410R.
† After students complete these courses (ELang 350 and 410R and CHum 230), they must visit the College Advisement Center (1175 JFSB) to have their names flagged as eligible to take 430R.
ELang 350 and 410R may be taken concurrently, but we recommend taking 350 before 410R; CHum 230 may be taken in any semester (except concurrently with ELang 430R), but we recommend taking it shortly before taking ELang 430R unless you plan to actively use the programs taught in CHum 230 in the interim before taking 430R.
This sequence of courses can be cut to a minimum of four semesters by taking ELang 350 and 410R in the third semester and taking CHum 230 in one of semesters one through three.
Linguistics 201 may be substituted for ELang 223. If you believe that other courses you have taken at BYU or elsewhere are equivalent to any of the courses required for the minor, see your advisor about the possibility of making a substitution.
Faculty and Advisors
There are three full-time faculty members in the editing program:
Marvin K. Gardner. 4045 JFSB, 422-1253, firstname.lastname@example.org. Professor Gardner’s primary interests and experience are in magazine, religious, and international publishing.
Alan D. Manning. 4053 JFSB, 422-2974, email@example.com. Professor Manning’s primary interests are in linguistics, especially as applied to editing and technical communication.
Melvin J. Thorne. 4092 JKB, 422-1719, firstname.lastname@example.org. Professor Thorne’s primary interests and experience are in scholarly, trade, and corporate publishing.
These faculty members serve as academic advisors for editing students; they are available to offer advice to individual students on academic matters and on the process of seeking jobs. Consult the table below to determine which faculty member is your advisor. If you already know one of these advisors, feel free to use that person as your advisor, whatever your surname. Your advisor will make sure that you understand the requirements of the minor and will explain some related opportunities. You must see your advisor to declare the editing minor.
Declaring the Minor
To declare the editing minor, students may pick up an application form from the Linguistics and English Language Department office (4064 JFSB) or from the College of Humanities Advisement Center (1175 JFSB), complete the form, and take it to their advisors. Before formally declaring the minor, students should be able to provide to their advisor some indication that they have both the necessary desire and aptitude for editing work. Students may do this in various ways, for example by completing Elang 325 with better than average success, by engaging in an internship, working on a student journal, or acquiring other editing experience.
Selecting a Section of ELang 410R Substantive and Genre Editing
All sections of ELang 410R cover substantive editing issues such as tone, organization, expression, titles, logic, indexes, and graphics. Each section practices those skills in the context of a different publishing genre and also focuses on issues specific to that genre. Genres are taught on a rotating basis, so students must plan their course of study to be ready for the genre class when it is taught.
Presently the genres include scholarly publications, technical works, magazines, fiction, and visual materials. Other genres may be offered in future years.
This section of ELang 410R prepares students to work for scholarly presses or to freelance edit scholarly articles, theses, and dissertations. Most university presses have an in-house staff and hire freelancers as well, either for subjects beyond the expertise of the staff or for projects with a looming deadline. Some students have also found this section helpful in preparing them to write their own theses or dissertations.
This section prepares students for jobs in technical publishing, working on computer manuals, production handbooks, grant proposals, and other technical works. Numerous technical companies, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and publications catering to technological specialties provide perhaps the largest entry-level job market for editors outside the trade publishing bastions. Freelancers also do well in this market, although they should know technical writing as well. We strongly recommend that all technical editing students take English 316, Technical Writing.
This section prepares students to work for magazines. We are all aware of the great variety of consumer magazines that line the shelves of bookstores, but perhaps not so well known are the hundreds of trade magazines, which offer starting jobs that are easier to obtain. Working with magazines is particularly attractive to students who are interested in both editing and writing, since many magazine staff members do both.
This section prepares students to work for fiction book publishers.
This section helps students understand how to use visual materials effectively and ethically. Many genres of publishing use visual materials extensively, especially magazines, textbooks, and technical publications.
Sections of ELang 410R are currently taught according to the following schedule (subject to revision; check with your advisor before each semester for an update):
Fall—Scholarly Publications and Magazines (sometimes Fiction)
Winter—Magazines and Technical Works (sometimes Visual Materials)
Spring—Magazines (sometimes Fiction)
Selecting a Section of ELang 430R Editing for Publication
The primary purpose of ELang 430R is to polish students’ editing skills through real-world, hands-on experience under the tutelage of experienced editors. The course also gives students an overview of publishing as a profession. The sections of ELang 430R vary primarily in the type of hands-on work available.
Sections taught by Marv Gardner
Students work on planning, writing, editing, proofreading, designing, and laying out magazine articles. They form a magazine staff to produce an issue of Stowaway magazine, which is published online at stowawaymag.com. These sections are regularly offered in Fall and Winter semesters.
Sections taught by Mel Thorne
Students work on mock and real book chapters. In addition to editing manuscripts, students work alone or in teams to produce mock books. These sections are regularly offered in Fall and Winter semesters and in Spring term.
A great way to get practical experience is to volunteer to work on the staff of one of the many student journals at BYU. You will get hands-on experience with all aspects of producing a journal: soliciting and evaluating manuscripts, substantive editing, copyediting, design, layout, proofreading, and printing. You will get feedback on your work from more advanced students and from faculty. We encourage you to work with a student journal early in your time at BYU so you can discover whether you have a taste for editing and a gift for it.
There are more than twenty student journals at BYU, some that publish once a year and a few that publish twice a year. With so many to choose from, you can easily find one whose content interests you. And all of them need staff volunteers. A few of the journals have paid student positions, usually filled by previous volunteers. You can also obtain academic credit for your work on these journals through ELang 351R. We highly recommend doing so, because having it on your transcript tells a potential employer that the journal experience was genuinely a learning experience.
A list of student journals, with contact information, is available on the editing page of the department website (linguistics.byu.edu/editing.php). For more information, contact Mel Thorne, the production advisor for BYU student journals (422- 1719, email@example.com).
One of the best ways to improve the editing skills that you learn in classes at BYU is to put those skills to work in an internship. We strongly encourage all editing minors to plan an internship into their curriculum (and to register for credit through ELang 399R, because having the class on your transcript tells a potential employer that the internship experience was genuinely a learning experience.). Many campus student editing jobs are already set up to be internships, and there are also several local opportunities off campus, both part-time and full-time.
While you are ultimately responsible for finding your own internship, Professor Mel Thorne, the internship coordinator (422-1719, mel_thorne@ byu.edu), can help you succeed in that experience. Requirements for the internships, instructions on how to get credit through ELang 399R, and listings for many internships can be found on the editing internship page of the department website (linguistics.byu.edu/editing_internships.php).
STET: The Editors’ Network
STET is a club for student editors. All editing minors are considered members of the club. It sponsors activities such as the following to support and enrich the editing curriculum at BYU:
• Presentations by editing professionals on opportunities in various fields of editing and publishing
• Workshops on career skills, such as résumé writing and interviewing
• Notices of campus job and internship openings
• Social and service activities
• Leadership opportunities
• A growing network of former editing minors in companies across the United States, who can help each other in finding good employment opportunities
Watch for email notices of club activities and information.
*Please come by either 1175 JFSB (Advisement Center) or 4064 JFSB (Department Office) and pick up an Editing Packet and Application.