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Copy editing tools


This straight-forward lesson exposes students to copy editing symbols, allows them to put the symbols to use and then assesses their understanding of those symbols.


  • Students will learn to emulate the procedures of professional copy editors.
  • Students will learn and understand copy editing symbols.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.


50-100 minutes


Slideshow: Copy editing symbols

Class set: Copy editing symbols handout

Class set: Copy editing symbols exercise

Lesson step-by-step

1. Instructions — 10 minutes

Distribute the Copy Editing Symbols handout. Walk through each of the symbols and their meanings to reinforce each item and answer any questions students might have.

2. Activity — 20-30 minutes

Distribute the copy editing symbols exercise, allowing students 20 minutes to incorporate the symbols, using the handout as a reference.

3. Review — 15-20 minutes

Go over the correct answers to the exercise using the copy editing symbols presentation.