You are here

Substantive Editing

Registration Information | Registration Form | Seminar Locations | Seminar for Editors

Substantive editing, also known as structural editing, focuses on the content, organization, and presentation of an entire text, from the title through to the ending. Substantive editors help writers define their goals, identify their readers, and shape the manuscript in the best possible way. They clarify the argument, fix the pacing, suggest improvements, and draw missing pieces from the author. These essential skills apply to fiction and non-fiction alike, including books, magazines, reports, legal decisions, and corporate and government writing of all kinds. They are equally useful for writers, too, as they revise their final drafts to submit to literary agents or publishers or to self-publish through Amazon, Google, or other platforms on the web.

Substantive editing is the first step in the editing or revising process, and there is no point in copy editing a text that needs substantive work. This seminar outlines the basic steps in substantive editing, offers tips on ways to win writers’ and clients’ confidence, and provides realistic in-class exercises. Enjoy a stimulating discussion, practise your skills, and return home with a fine handout. 


Rosemary Shipton is a well-known book editor and an instructor of writing and editing skills for universities, corporations, and Editors Canada. Through her partnership, Shipton McDougall Maude Associates, she has also worked on several large commission-of-inquiry reports for the federal and the Ontario governments. Many of the trade and academic books she has edited have won major Canadian and US literary awards. In addition, for 17 years she was the academic coordinator of the Publishing Program at Ryerson University, where she taught Substantive, Stylistic, and Copy Editing. In 2007, Rosemary was granted an honorary doctorate by Trinity College, University of Toronto. Previous awards include the Tom Fairley Award for Editorial Excellence from Editors Canada and three awards for excellence in teaching from Ryerson University.

Saturday, April 9

9 AM to 4 PM (lunch will be served)
Registration – $210 members, $240 non-members (HST extra)
Early Registration (to March 26) – $175 members, $195 non-members (HST extra)
Victoria College, Room 211, Victoria University, University of Toronto
91 Charles Street West