National University

General Course Information for JRN301: Copy Editing

Course: JRN301 - Copy Editing
Textbook: For the correct edition of the textbook assigned to a specific class, go to:

Course Prerequisite(s):
Course Description: This course provides an introduction to copyediting and includes the roles and responsibilities of a copy editor on a daily newspaper, which go beyond being able to spot grammatical and spelling errors in copy. Students learn how a copy editor approaches a news story and how to edit that story for clarity, sense and organization, as well as for spelling, grammar and style, and fairness. Students will edit copy and write headlines and cutlines, as well as learn the basics of layout and design.
Course Learning Outcomes:
  • Identify the necessary skills to function as a professional copy editor.
  • Recognize the importance of single-minded concentration and focus when copy editing a story.
  • Demonstrate how to read and edit on different levels, for story organization, logic, fairness, accuracy, style, grammar and spelling.
  • Describe how news judgment affects design and layout.
  • Describe how to question the reporter and content editor to revise stories and make them coherent and complete.
  • Explain the importance of reading the publication you work for, every day, as well as reading competing publications and consuming a variety of other media.
  • Compose good headlines and cutlines (picture captions) for stories.
  • Apply proper spelling and grammar in the editing of a story.
  • Recognize the importance of style and consistency within a publication.
  • Identify the principles of page layout and design.
  • Identify the legal definition of libel and describe the role copy editors play as the news organization's last line of defense against libel.
  • Identify the role of wire services in news-gathering, and use their contributions appropriately.
Specified Program Learning Outcomes:
    • Apply copyediting rules and techniques for fact-checking.
    • Apply ethical principles of journalism during reporting, writing and producing.
    • Identify the elements of style and structure in news and feature stories.
    • Identify what constitutes news.
    • Recognize the legal boundaries of the First Amendment that balance the freedom and responsibility of the press.
    • Work in groups to publish an online or print news product.
    • Write focused news and feature stories for a variety of platforms.
    • Write in a variety of story forms, including news and feature.

Students with Disabilities:
Students seeking special accommodations due to a disability must submit an application with supporting documentation, as explained under this subject heading in the General Catalog. Instructors are required to provide such accommodations if they receive written notification from the University.

Writing Across the Curriculum:
Students are expected to demonstrate writing skills in describing, analyzing and evaluating ideas and experiences. Written reports and research papers must follow specific standards regarding citations of an author's work within the text and references at the end of the paper. Students are encouraged to use the services of the University's Writing Center when preparing materials.

The following website provides information on APA, MLA, and other writing and citation styles that may be required for term papers and the like:

National University Library:
National University Library supports academic rigor and student academic success by providing access to scholarly books and journals both electronically and in hard copy. Print materials may be accessed at the Library in San Diego or through document delivery for online and regional students. Librarians are available to provide training, reference assistance, and mentoring at the San Diego Library and virtually for online or regional students. Please take advantage of Library resources:


Contact the Library:

  • (858) 541-7900 (direct line)
  • 1-866-NU ACCESS x7900 (toll free)

Use the Library Training Tools (on the Library Homepage) for additional help

  • Recorded class presentations
  • Tutorials & Guides (APA/MLA, Peer-Review, and more)

Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else's ideas or work as one's own. Students must give credit for any information that is not either the result of original research or common knowledge. If a student borrows ideas or information from another author, he/she must acknowledge the author in the body of the text and on the reference page. Students found plagiarizing are subject to the penalties outlined in the Policies and Procedures section of the University Catalog, which may include a failing grade for the work in question or for the entire course. The following is one of many websites that provide helpful information concerning plagiarism for both students and faculty:

Ethical behavior in the classroom is required of every student. The course will identify ethical policies and practices relevant to course topics.

Students are expected to be competent in using current technology appropriate for this discipline. Such technology may include word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Use of the internet and e-mail may also be required.

Learning to work with and value diversity is essential in every class. Students are expected to exhibit an appreciation for multinational and gender diversity in the classroom.

As a diverse community of learners, students must strive to work together in a setting of civility, tolerance, and respect for each other and for the instructor. Rules of classroom behavior (which apply to online as well as onsite courses) include but are not limited to the following:

  • Conflicting opinions among members of a class are to be respected and responded to in a professional manner.
  • Side conversations or other distracting behaviors are not to be engaged in during lectures, class discussions or presentations
  • There are to be no offensive comments, language, or gestures