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Professional Development Seminars

Registration fees and policies

  Early bird registration Regular registration
Members $250 + tax $275 + tax
Non-members $375 + tax $400 + tax
Students $200 + tax

Note: The early bird discount is automatically applied to registrations made 6 weeks or more before the seminar date.


Cancellation policy

If Editors Ottawa-Gatineau cancels a seminar, we will refund your paid registration fee in full.

If you wish to cancel your registration, the following terms apply:

  • You must send an email to to notify us that you are canceling your registration.
  • If you cancel before registration closes (up to one week before the seminar) we will refund 50 percent of your paid registration fee.
  • If you cancel after registration closes (within seven days of the seminar), no refund is possible.

Contact for all seminar registration and cancellation enquiries.


2019-20 Professional Development Seminar Series


Time: 9:00am to 4:00pm

Location: Sheraton Ottawa Hotel at 150 Albert St.
                     On-site valet parking available ($20).


Seminar schedule

Fall 2019

Grammar Fundamentals with Frances Peck — September 26, 2019

Plain Language: Building Results with Frances Peck — September 27, 2019

In advance of the November 16, 2019 copy editing certification exam:

Copy Editing I with Moira White — October 11, 2019

Copy Editing II with Moira White — November 7, 2019

Winter/Spring 2020

Editing Government Reports with Laurel Hyatt — February 12, 2020

Eight-Step Editing with Moira White — April 15, 2020

Stylistic Editing with Carolyn Brown — May 13, 2020


Seminar descriptions

Grammar Fundamentals

Take this quick quiz:

1. List and define the eight parts of speech.

2. Explain the difference between a phrase and a clause.

3. Whats a subject complement? An object complement? An appositive?

4. Provide an example of an absolute phrase, a gerund phrase, a participial phrase. Which one always functions as an adjective? Which one is falling out of use?

5. Explain the difference between a restrictive and a non-restrictive clause.

At sea? Then this seminar is for you. Whether your aim is to plug educational holes, to better apply the rules of grammar, or to impress your clients and colleagues, this seminar will cover all the grammatical terms and structures you need to know. Bring your pencils and prepare to parse!



Plain Language: Building Results

Many documents have one basic goal: to deliver information to a particular audience. But all too often, the message gets buried by weak organization, wordiness, abstract language, jargon, poor page design, and other barriers to readability.

This one-day introduction to plain language shows you how to remove those barriers and build a document that says what it means. We’ll start by defining plain language and examining its benefits. Next we’ll discuss readers, including the different types and their different reading needs. Then we’ll cover seven practical techniques for creating plain language documents. We’ll finish with a look at page design and ways of evaluating readability. The workshop will include individual and group exercises to help you apply plain language to real-life passages

Frances Peck has been working with words for over two decades, whether writing them, editing them, or teaching people about them. Author of Peck’s English Pointers (available through the Language Portal of Canada) and co-author of the popular HyperGrammar website, she teaches editing at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. She is a partner with West Coast Editorial Associates and a long-time member of Editors Canada.



Copy Editing I

This workshop is meant for both novice editors and those who want to improve their writing. You will learn basic techniques for improving text and the types of errors and difficulties typically found in everyday writing.

The instructor will introduce participants to some of the perennial problem topics that copy editors face such as:

  • Spelling: determining capitalization and hyphenation; forming compounds; choosing spelling for a Canadian audience.
  • Grammar: ensuring subject-verb and pronoun–antecedent agreement; avoiding dangling or misplaced modifiers; maintaining parallel structure.
  • Punctuation: clarifying meaning; understanding necessary and optional commas, dealing with hyphen and dash difficulties; determining whether punctuation goes inside or outside quotation marks.
  • Word usage: sidestepping commonly misused words; avoiding noun strings; eliminating redundancies.
  • Mechanics of style: using or creating a style sheet to maintain consistency; dealing with abbreviations, acronyms, and initialisms; knowing when to italicize.

This is a learn-by-doing seminar with many exercises to illustrate the content.



Copy Editing II

“Superb copyeditors need good judgment as much as language skills, and they must vary their decisions depending on the author they are working with and the conventions of his particular subject area.” (Rosemary Shipton in Darcy Cullen, ed., Editors, Scholars, and the Social Text)

Copy editors constantly need to make edit orial and process decisions. Not only does the English language allow a variety of ways to edit most texts, but also clients’ needs vary from project to project. Copy editors can also offer value through their wide knowledge of language and content, as well as their skill with electronic editing tools.

In this seminar, you’ll practice on a variety of documents and learn tips and tricks from two experienced copy editors.

You’ll leave with the confidence to tune your edit appropriately and sensitively, customizing each document to its genre and situation. You’ll also leave with a detailed handbook that covers the seminar content and more.

  • Where copy editing fits in the editorial process.
  • When and how to make decisions on grammar, punctuation, tone, length, language level, etc.
  • What value add-ons you can offer, such as creating a style sheet, checking facts, correcting usage, and formatting documents.
  • How to work efficiently using checklists, consistency-checking software, and Word’s editorial tools.
  • Apply plain language techniques.
  • Hone your technique for spotting errors.
  • Learn more about stylistic considerations.
  • Determine how much to edit.

Moira Rayner White entered the work world as a social worker and later moved into social policy. In both professions, she found that her organizational skills, attention to detail, and love of words were pointing her in a new direction — the world of editing. Currently a freelance editor, writer, and trainer with both public and private sector clients, she has decades of experience editing print and electronic publications. Moira is a past president of Editors Canada.



Editing Government Reports

Whether you work in the federal government or are a freelancer wanting to break into this large market, the requirements for government report editing can seem daunting. In this seminar, we’ll demystify the process — from the legislative requirements that start the ball rolling, to the sign-off before publication.

Using real examples from reports and hands-on exercises, we’ll cover

  • what legislation and communications policies affect reports
  • what kinds of federal reports are produced
  • how to do project management and quality control
  • how to deal with authors, from experts to committees
  • how to handle possible political sensitivities and ethical issues
  • what to look for at all stages of the editing process, from substantive editing to proofreading
  • when and why plain language is important in federal reportshow to work in a bilingual environment
  • how fact checking federal reports differs from fact checking other documents
  • how to survive the “March madness ” end-of-fiscal period and handle rush jobs
  • what security issues you may face

The federal government editing environment is changing daily. You’ll come away from this seminar feeling confident to handle the challenge and reap the rewards.

Laurel Hyatt has been a journalist, writer, and editor for three decades. Since 1995, she has worked freelance and in-house on reports for nearly two dozen federal departments and agencies, including Statistics Canada and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.



Eight-Step Editing

Eight-Step Editing breaks the editorial process down into a series of tasks that will improve the readability of the final product.

If you're an editor, whatever your experience level (from novice to expert), this seminar will help you develop a systematic approach to editing and identify functions you may have been performing only intuitively. If you're a writer, the Eight-Step process will give you techniques for improving your manuscript before it goes to an editor.

The eight steps

  • Step one: shorten sentences
  • Step two: take out the trash
  • Step three: eliminate the negatives
  • Step four: deflate long words and phrases
  • Step five: elimin ate the equations
  • Step six: activate the passives
  • Step seven: lead with strength
  • Step eight: parade your paragraphs

Moira Rayner White entered the work world as a social worker and later moved into social policy. In both professions, she found that her organizational skills, attention to detail, and love of words were pointing her in a new direction — the world of editing. Currently a freelance editor, writer, and trainer with both public and private sector clients, she has decades of experience editing print and electronic publications. Moira is a past president of Editors Canada.



Stylistic Editing

Whether you edit novels, reports, websites or magazines, stylistic editing is a key skill. Editors Canada’s professional editorial standards define stylistic editing as “editing to clarify meaning, improve flow, and smooth language.” It is the domain of those editors who want to communicate: to get the message from the author to the reader accurately, honestly, and even elegantly. It also relies on developing that rare commodity, editorial judgment.

This seminar is based on the Editors Canada standards for this skill, but it will also look at how stylistic editing is done in a variety of publishing settings. Expectations for stylistic editing can vary widely. How can editors adapt to the needs of their employers and clients?

We will cover

The context for stylistic editing

  • Who are the readers, and how does that determine the approach to stylistic editing?
  • What is the medium, and how does that affect the approach?
  • What is the purpose, and how does stylistic editing help communicate that purpose?

Judgment in approaching editing decisions

  • Paragraph-level decisions (length, structure, logical flow, connection with other paragraphs)
  • Sentence-level decisions (length, sentence construction, logical flow, connectors, as well as common problems such as passive voice, noun strings, etc.)
  • Word-level decisions (word choice geared to readers, omission of unnecessary words)

The toolkit

  • Subordination and coordination
  • Affirmative constructions
  • Judicious use of passive voice
  • Disentangling noun strings
  • Resolving ambiguity
  • Strengthening verbs and correcting nominalizations
  • Reorganizing paragraphs and sentences
  • Gentle rewriting
  • Working with visuals (illustrations, photos, tables, graphs)

Communicating with authors

  • When and who to query
  • Using Comments to query
  • Whether and when to use Track Changes
  • Amount and level of editing
  • When to honour the author’s voice

The approach to this seminar will involve lively discussions, tales from the trenches, and hands-on exercises. Join us for an enriching and informative day devoted to our craft.

Carolyn Brown is a Certified Professional Editor and Editor in the Life Sciences. She has edited a wide variety of material for 35 years, specializing in scientific and medical publications for the past 25 years. She is the author of the chapter on citation in Editing Canadian English 2nd edition and a perennial seminar leader.