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Frequently Asked Questions

                                 Certification FAQ

General information

If you're considering professional certification

If you've decided to take the exams

Credential Maintenance

Changes Related to the New Professional Editorial Standards (2016), Introduced in 2017

General Information

Why does Editors Canada have a professional certification program?

Editors Canada's professional certification program:

  • Promotes and maintains high professional standards of editing
  • Helps editors develop professionally
  • Enhances the status of editing as a profession in Canada
  • Enhances the status of the Editors' Association of Canada and its right to speak for editors in Canada

When and where are the exams offered?

The exams are offered each November in major centres across Canada, as demand and resources allow.

Exams have been offered in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax. 

As of 2018, testing is also offered at remote sites. If you live more than 300 kilometres from an exam site, or if your particular circumstances make travelling to a regular exam site a hardship, you may qualify for remote testing.

Why does Editors Canada's professional certification program test for excellence?

The decision to test for excellence was made relatively early in the certification program development process, although this wasn't made explicit until 2006.

When certification was first explored, the Certification Steering Committee knew it had to find a way to distinguish between Editors Canada's professional certification program and the university and college editing certificate programs that were just coming into being.

The passing grade for most certificate or diploma programs was—and still is—60%.

Editors Canada's professional certification is set at a higher bar: the passing grade is approximately 80%. This defines a passing grade as an indication of excellence, and differentiates Editors Canada's professional certification program from a certificate or diploma program.

That's why Editors Canada's professional certification program is known as the gold standard of editing.

How does Editors Canada's professional certification program compare with other programs?

Editors Canada's professional certification program is based on Professional Editorial Standards (2016), which says, "Editors who meet these standards are able to do a professional job with minimum supervision."

Although many certification programs do test for proficiency, one of the principal certification guides consulted by Editors Canada (Setting the Standard: Certification Programs Supplement, The Alliance of Sector Councils in partnership with the Canadian Standards Association, 2008, p. 8) states that "Some certification programs are designed to identify elite members of an occupation. These programs have requirements and assessments that may be complex and are intended to identify those who have truly demonstrated mastery of the content. In such cases, one can conclude that a successful candidate is a master in the field, but not that low scorers are incompetent. Failing scores are only interpreted as a candidate not having achieved mastery."

Editors Canada's professional certification exams identify editors who are masters of their craft. This is accepted practice among national and international certifying bodies.

Why do I have to sign a confidentiality agreement before taking an exam?

Confidentiality agreements are needed to protect candidates and the integrity of the testing process.

Before you take an exam, you must agree not to disclose information that could identify other candidates.

In keeping with generally accepted testing principles, you must also agree not to reveal information about the exams themselves, because this could give future candidates an unfair advantage.

Whether you're writing a pilot exam or an actual certification exam, you'll be asked to sign a statement saying you will "not disclose information about the identities of individuals who take the exams or about the exams themselves. This includes discussing exam questions and other content, the exam scenarios and the specific tasks required of candidates."

Editors Canada policies about confidentiality accord with provincial and federal privacy legislation.

How long does it take to become certified?

The time required depends on the credential(s) you wish to earn and the pace at which you choose to work.

As soon as you pass an exam, you earn a certification in that editorial skill set.

The four exams you must pass to earn the certified professional editor (CPE) credential are offered in two-year rotations, so it's possible to become a CPE within two years.

There's no requirement, however, to take more than one exam in any given year. The time frame for passing all four exams is unlimited.

How does Editors Canada ensure that the testing process is rigorous, fair, and secure?

The professional certification program is based on Professional Editorial Standards (2016), which outlines the skills and knowledge an editor requires to do a professional job with minimal supervision in fields across the publishing and communications industries.

Each exam is developed and piloted using generally accepted testing principles common to professional certification programs.

A marking analyst and an independent auditor review the results to ensure that the exams are fair and accurately marked.

Everyone involved, including National Office staffers, volunteers and testing experts, is required to sign a confidentiality agreement and to follow procedures that guarantee exam security.

Are the exams offered electronically?

The structural editing, stylistic editing, and copy editing exams are offered on computer. These exams are offered in a recent version of Word on desktop PCs in computer labs across the country.

The proofreading exam will continue to be offered on paper as long as there’s no industry standard for proofreaders to work on computers and in a particular piece of software.

How are the exams handled and marked?

Each exam is identified only by a candidate number.

The markers are carefully trained before they begin. They're given a very detailed answer key that contains a range of correct responses for each question.

Each exam is marked independently by two markers, using a double-blind process. The two markers and the candidate remain completely unaware of one another's identities.

If one marker recommends a passing score and the other recommends a failing score, a third marker assesses the candidate's work, again without knowing anyone else's identity.

Once all of the exams have been marked, a marking analyst and an independent auditor review the results.

Only when it's time to let candidates know whether they've passed the exam does a staff member in Editors Canada's National Office match up their names with the candidate numbers on the exam papers.

Do the exams require specialized knowledge about any particular subject?

No. They test only the knowledge and skills that every editor needs, as defined by Editors Canada's Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

The exams simulate real-life work situations as far as this is possible in an invigilated exam setting, and with the understanding that not all editors work on the same kinds of documents, not all freelance editors have the same kinds of clients, and not all in-house editors work for the same kinds of organizations.

While client and supervisor expectations differ, as do the procedures followed at different workplaces, the fundamental skills and knowledge required to edit a document remain the same.

A certified editor is one who can, according to Professional Editorial Standards (2016), "ensure that the material is consistent and correct and that its content, language, style, and layout suit its purpose and meet the needs of its audience."

Do I have to pass exams in all skill areas?

Not necessarily.

You need to pass exams in all skill areas only if you wish to obtain the certified professional editor (CPE) credential.

Otherwise, you need to pass only the exam for the specific credential you wish to earn, whether it's structural editing, stylistic editing, copy editing, or proofreading.

Do I have to take more than one exam in the same year?

No. You can take the exams in different years.

You'll receive a discount, however, if you register for two exams in one year.

How hard is it to pass the exams?

To pass an Editors Canada professional certification exam, you must score approximately 80 percent or higher. The exact pass mark fluctuates slightly from exam to exam and from one administration to another.

The percentage of candidates who pass varies from exam to exam and from year to year, because the exams are different each year.

For instance, in 2016 the pass rate for the proofreading exam was 24%, and in 2014 the pass rate for the structural editing exam was 56%.

These rates are in line with those reported by other national and international certification bodies.

They're also what you would expect from a program that identifies candidates who demonstrate excellence in editing.

It's important to understand that Editors Canada's professional certification program measures excellence, rather than proficiency. It identifies editors who are masters of their craft.

A failing score does not mean a candidate is incompetent. It just means the person has not demonstrated mastery.

What are some common reasons for failing a exams?

Candidates fail for various reasons. Here are some of the most common:

  • Some candidates don’t have enough solid work experience before they attempt an exam. It’s not enough to have in-depth experience in one medium. You need broad-based experience that covers several areas within the publishing and communications industries. This is the best way to acquire the skills required in the Fundamentals of Editing section of Professional Editorial Standards (2016). To help determine whether you’re ready to take a certification exam, you can use our handy preparation checklist.
  • Some candidates don’t prepare adequately. They don’t work carefully through Professional Editorial Standards (2016), the Test Preparation Guides, and Meeting Professional Editorial Standards. Some don’t go beyond these resources, which are meant as a starting point. Preparation requires more than just a few hours. Surveys of those who write the exams indicate that most study for at least 30 hours per exam.To increase your chance of passing an exam, you need to do more than just spend hours reading. You need to have a comprehensive plan and prepare well.
  • Some candidates don’t follow the exam instructions. You need to read the instructions for each section of the exam, and respond appropriately. If you’re writing the proofreading exam, for example, you must be careful not to copy edit. And if you’re writing the copy editing exam, you must refrain from making substantive changes.
  • Some candidates don’t manage their time well, and are unable to complete the exam in the time allotted. You need to be organized in your approach, and be aware of how much time you can afford to spend on each section of the exam.
  • Some candidates disregard some of the specific standards required for each type of editing, as described in Professional Editorial Standards (2016). Some proofreading candidates neglect to proofread non-text materials accompanying a passage they’re asked to proofread, for example, while some copy editing candidates miss common grammar and usage problems. You must meet all of the requirements outlined in the relevant sections of Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

Can I see my marked exam?

No. To safeguard the integrity of the testing process and to ensure that we can reuse certain questions and passages on future exams, we cannot allow you to see your marked exam.

If You're Considering Certification

How widely recognized is Editors Canada certification?

A growing number of editors across Canada have earned credentials since the Editors Canada certification exams were first offered in 2006.

The online roster of Editors Canada-certified editors identifies those who are certified as proofreaders, copy editors, structural editors, stylistic editors and professional editors (CPEs).

A number of post-secondary institutions offer courses in editing, as well as certificates, diplomas and degrees in editing, journalism, publishing and communications. And several editing associations (http://www.bels.org, www.iped-editors.org, www.sfep.org.uk) test for editing proficiency.

Editors Canada certification is the only program, however, that administers invigilated exams of excellence on the basis of national occupational standards, as specified by the Alliance of Sector Councils and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence.

Human resource personnel in business, non-governmental organizations and government are becoming aware of Editors Canada certification, and are starting to ask for it as proof of editorial excellence.

Recognition is likely to increase as more editors meet the high standards required by the program.

I'm currently a member of the Editors' Association of Canada. Can I continue to be a member if I don't become certified?

Yes. Certification and membership eligibility are unconnected.

I'm a non-member and am considering taking the exams. Will I have to join the Editors' Association of Canada to become certified?

No. Certification is open to all editors and proofreaders, whether or not they're Editors Canada members.

However, Editors Canada Members do pay lower exam registration fees than non-members.

I just graduated from a post-secondary publishing program. Should I apply for certification?

We recommend that you wait until you have at least five years of solid work experience across a range of media and materials.

The exams require knowledge and skills that can be gained only with practice and experience.

I have no formal training in publishing or editing, but I've been working as an editor for 15 years. Can I apply for certification?

Yes.

The exams allow you to demonstrate your editing skills and knowledge, no matter where or how you've acquired them.

I'm an editor who recently relocated to Canada. Will I have to get Canadian experience or training before I apply for certification?

No.

You will, however, need to be familiar with Canadian editing practices and references and the Canadian context.

I have plenty of work already. Why should I bother with certification?

You may want to take the exams to prove your own ability and to be recognized within your field.

You may want to consider certification as professional development. Studying for the exams will help you identify and fill gaps in your knowledge and skill set.

You may also want to use your certified status as a marketing tool.

Many certified editors have found that it pays to mention their credentials when communicating with prospective employers and clients.

And many organizations, especially in publishing and government, are recognizing the value of Editors Canada's certification program.

I employ editors. Should I consider paying for their certifications?

In a 2002 Editors Canada-sponsored national poll of 100 companies that employed editors, 65 percent said they would reimburse all or part of their employees' costs related to programs such as certification.

Sixty-one percent wanted to know when certification would be available.

The employers noted several advantages of certification. Among other things, they felt it would:

If You've Decided to Take the Exams

What's the best way to prepare for the exams?

Begin preparing for a certification exam by reviewing the standards that will be tested.

Assess your ability to apply these standards by working through the relevant Test Preparation Guide and Meeting Professional Editorial Standards.

Follow our preparation guidelines, using our preparation checklist to track your progress.

Does it matter whether I use the old Study Guides or the new Test Preparation Guides?

Both sets of resources are useful when preparing for certification exams or improving your editing skills and knowledge.

However, the Study Guide volumes were designed to support candidates writing earlier versions of the certification exam, and do not reflect all aspects of the current exams. The Test Preparation Guides are based on the 2016 version of Professional Editorial Standards, and reflect the current exams.

If you decide to use one or more of the old volumes, make sure you study the newer Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

It differs from Professional Editorial Standards (1999) in several respects:

When deciding which resources to use, keep in mind how the current exams differ from the exams offered before 2010.

Certification Exams from 2006 to 2009,
Based on PES (1999)
Certification Exams from 2010 to Present,
Based on PES (2009)
Supported by the
EAC Certification Study Guide and
Exemplars,
Volumes 1 through 4
Supported by the
Proofreading Study Guide,
Copy Editing Study Guide,
Stylistic Editing Study Guide
and Structural Editing Study Guide
Elementary Knowledge of the Publishing Process
Candidate answers questions about the publishing process
 
Proofreading
Candidate proofreads one or two passages
Proofreading
Candidate responds to short-answer questions about the publishing process and about proofreading
Candidate proofreads one or two passages
Copy Editing
Candidate responds to short-answer questions about copy editing
Candidate edits a passage and provides additional material (e.g., style sheet)
Copy Editing
Candidate responds to short-answer questions about the publishing process and about copy editing
Candidate edits a passage and provides additional material (e.g., style sheet)
Structural and Stylistic Editing
Candidate edits a passage and provides additional material (e.g., outline and author memo)
Stylistic Editing
Candidate responds to short-answer questions about the publishing process and about stylistic editing
Candidate edits a passage and provides additional material (e.g., author memo)
Structural Editing
Candidate responds to short-answer questions about the publishing process and about structural editing
Candidate edits a passage and provides additional material (e.g., outline)

What am I allowed to bring to the exam?

You will be asked to bring the following to the exam:

  • Your candidate number
  • Photo identification
  • Pens or pencils
  • An eraser
  • A calculator
  • A major dictionary:
    • Canadian Oxford Dictionary
    • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
    • Oxford Dictionary of English or the Concise Oxford English Dictionary
  • Editing Canadian English (but not Editorial Niches)
  • Up to three style guides (or a thesaurus and two style guides):
    • The Associated Press Stylebook
    • Butcher’s Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders
    • The Canadian Press Stylebook and its companion CP Caps and Spelling
    • The Canadian Style
    • The Chicago Manual of Style
    • New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide

Once you've registered for a exam, you'll receive a complete list of materials you may bring to the exam.

If the books you intend to bring have handwritten notes on some pages, you don't need to erase them.

You may also include sticky notes on pages to help you quickly identify particular sections.

However, please remove any loose sheets of paper from your books before you bring them to the exam site.

You may also bring the following:

  • A magnifying glass
  • Earplugs
  • A watch
  • A pica ruler
  • A pencil sharpener
  • Blank sticky notes
  • Bottled water
  • A sweater or shawl
  • A seat cushion

What am I NOT allowed to bring to the exam?

You may NOT bring any of the following:

  • Professional Editorial Standards (2016)
  • A test preparation guide 
  • Meeting Professional Editorial Standards
  • For proofreading, copy editing, or structural editing, any book other than a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English, and three style guides
  • For stylistic editing, any book other than a Canadian dictionary, Editing Canadian English, and three style guides or two style guides and a thesaurus
  • Paper
  • A proportion wheel
  • Correction fluid or tape
  • An electronic device of any type
  • Food (unless you need to eat during the test for health reasons—if this is the case, please contact the professional standards coordinator)

What if a dictionary, style guide or some other item I like to use isn't on the list of allowable materials?

If a book or other item you'd like to use isn't on the list of allowable materials, contact the professional standards coordinator at least 15 days before the exam and ask about it.

You may be given permission to replace one of the listed books with the book you prefer, or to bring the extra item.

If your request for an additional item is granted, all candidates will be informed of the addition to the list of allowable resources.

Why do I need a calculator?

Depending on the exam, you may be expected to check numerical material for accuracy or to perform calculations, in accordance with requirements listed in Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

Am I expected to be an expert in specific style systems, such as APA?

No.

You are, however, expected to be familiar with documentation style in general (notes-and-bibliography versus author-date systems), and to know where to find information in the style guides you bring to the exam.

Your best sources of information about what you're expected to know are Professional Editorial Standards (2016) and the Test Preparation Guides.

Will I have to convert imperial measures to metric?

You may be expected to notice and perhaps correct errors or inconsistencies in conversions, as described in Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

If you're writing the copy editing exam, for instance, according to standard D7, you might be expected to "identify and either correct or query errors in material containing statistics, mathematics, and numerals (e.g., incorrect imperial/metric conversions, incorrect totals in tables).'"

Your best sources of information about what you'll have to do are Professional Editorial Standards (2016) and the Study Guide.

What happens if I don't pass?

A few months after the exam, you'll receive a letter telling you whether you've passed or failed.

If you don't pass, you may take the exam again the next time it's offered.

You may also appeal your result within 30 days of the date on the letter.

How many times can I take a particular exam?

You can take an exam as many times as you wish.

Each exam is currently offered at least once every two years.

You must pay the full registration fee each time you register for a exam.

If you plan to retake an exam, we recommend that you engage in professional development activities that will strengthen your knowledge and skills pertaining to the relevant standards in Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

Is there a time limit for passing all of the exams required to become a certified professional editor (CPE)?

No.

Credential Maintenance

Why does Editors Canada's certification program include credential maintenance?

Credential maintenance is a recognized part of professional certification programs offered by associations throughout the world.

The Alliance of Sector Councils recommends that "the certification body should develop procedures and requirements for periodic recertification of certified individuals" (Setting the Standard: Accepted Principles and Recommended Practices for National Occupational Standards, Certification Programs, and Accreditation Programs, the Alliance of Sector Councils in partnership with the Canadian Standards Association, 2008, p. 22).

The document continues, "[R]ecertification may require evidence of continued employment in the certified occupation, evidence of continued education/training hours, and/or administration of an assessment instrument specifically designed for recertification."

Credential maintenance adds value to your credentials and to Editors Canada's certification program by:

Who designed the credential maintenance program, and why was this format chosen?

Editors Canada's certification program has been developed over many years. It has always included provisions for credential maintenance.

A number of Editors Canada certification committees and subcommittees have built a framework for the credential maintenance program. The current format was approved by Editors Canada's National Executive Council in 2011.

The format was chosen because it includes activities that most conscientious editors would agree are essential to doing their best work, and that many are already doing—learning, teaching, working, volunteering.

We wanted a program that acknowledged the contribution of these activities to the maintenance and building of editing skills, and that did not put an extra burden on already busy professionals.

Editors Canada's credential maintenance program is similar to those of other professional organizations, including the American Translators Association, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Project Management Institute.

Why are editors who were certified before 2012 not required to maintain their certifications? What if they want to participate in credential maintenance?

The certification program before 2012 did not yet include credential maintenance.

It's therefore unfair to require editors who earned all of their certifications before 2012 to participate in credential maintenance. They didn't agree to do so when they pursued certification.

Any editor who received a credential before 2012 is required to participate in credential maintenance if s/he has also earned a credential under the new iteration of the certification program.

Why is there an annual fee for credential maintenance? I've already paid to write the certification exam(s).

The small annual fee ($25 for Editors Canada members, $100 for non-members) covers the administrative costs of tracking, auditing and notifying certified editors about their credential maintenance requirements.

It allows us to maintain contact with and support certified editors in their pursuit of professional development opportunities.

The fee remains the same no matter how many credentials you earn.

Editing doesn't change that much. Why do I have to prove that my skills are up to date?

Editing may not undergo drastic changes, but things do change.

Editors who don't participate in regular professional development may not be aware of the latest features of commonly used software, or of the current state of the gradual but constant shift in language usage, or of trends in publishing.

This reduces their ability to advise employers and clients.

Editors Canada certification is based on Professional Editorial Standards, which are regularly revised to reflect the current state of editing.

Credential maintenance assures prospective clients that editors are staying up to date with the latest practices and standards.

I don't have time to do credential maintenance. My schedule is full as it is. Does this mean I shouldn't bother pursuing certification?

Many of the activities you're already doing will qualify for credential maintenance points. These include:

  • Delivering education and training—Developing or delivering courses, workshops, presentations or webinars; leading study groups; mentoring or training other editors; publishing printed or online material related to editing
  • Receiving education and training—Taking courses or workshops, in person or online; attending presentations, webinars, podcasts or study groups; completing exercises; reading printed or online material about language, grammar, style, etc.; being mentored or trained by other editors
  • Volunteering (Editors Canada members only)—Performing volunteer work related directly to editing skills and knowledge, such as serving on committees and subcommittees for certification, professional standards, publications, training and development; marking certification tests; taking pilot tests
  • Working—Working in any capacity as a proofreader, copy editor, stylistic editor or structural editor as defined by Professional Editorial Standards (2016)
  • Other—Editing-related professional development activities that don't fall into the first four categories, as approved by the Credential Maintenance Subcommittee

The credential maintenance program was field-tested by a freelance editor who was an Editors Canada member, an in-house editor who was an Editors Canada member, and an editor who was not an Editors Canada member.

All three were able to earn 100 points in less than the five years required, largely by engaging in activities they already pursued. Accumulating points required no special effort.

Why do I have to earn points in at least three different categories to maintain my credential(s)?

We believe an editor needs well-rounded skills, and that a broad range of experience goes into making a good editor.

If only one category were required, it would be possible for an editor to retain a credential by doing the same editorial task for years, for example, without ever taking a course or reading an article about changes in language usage.

Or someone could attend many seminars, but never actually work as an editor.

Just as you need broad experience to pass a certification exam, you must continually improve and broaden your skills to remain a master of your craft.

I don't live near a city. How can I maintain my credential(s) if I can't attend seminars?

A wide variety of activities that qualify for certification maintenance can be done remotely, including online courses, listening to editing-related podcasts, reading and writing about editing, mentoring other editors and so on.

You can earn up to 10 points by attending just one Editors Canada conference in each five-year reporting period.

A number of Editors Canada volunteer opportunities are suited to remote work.

And, of course, working qualifies, too.

I've taken just about all the courses there are at my level. How can I stay certified?

You can earn the points you need without taking courses.

Many other activities qualify—teaching courses, giving talks or seminars, mentoring other editors, volunteering for Editors Canada, writing and reading about editing, attending Editors Canada conference sessions and more.

And, of course, working qualifies, too.

Do I have to send in proof of all my professional development activities for credential maintenance?

You don't have to send in proof of your activities, such as documents or receipts, but you should keep these records in the event that you're audited.

The Credential Maintenance Subcommittee occasionally performs random checks to ensure that all is in order.

On the online credential maintenance reporting form, briefly describe each activity and note the date(s). Then keep paper or electronic confirmations of these activities.

At the end of the five-year period, will I receive something as confirmation of credential maintenance?

Editors Canada will send you a new seal for each of your credential certificates.

I was ill for a long period, and was unable to work or study to earn credential maintenance points. Will I lose my certification(s)?

If you let us know you won't be able to earn all of the required points by the end of your reporting period, we'll take your circumstances into consideration and help you establish a new schedule.

Please contact Editors Canada's professional standards coordinator for more information.

If I've earned 100 points, can I submit my credential maintenance reporting form before the end of my five-year reporting period?

Yes. You can submit the form as soon as you've earned 100 points.

Your next reporting period will begin as originally scheduled—that is, five years after your current one began.

You'll still need to pay the annual administration fee for the intervening years.

What kinds of activities qualify for credential maintenance?

You can use a wide range of activities for credential maintenance.

Almost any activity that directly relates to maintaining your editing skills and knowledge qualifies for credential maintenance points.

Qualifying activities fall into five broad categories:

  • Delivering education and training—Developing or delivering courses, workshops, presentations or webinars; leading study groups; mentoring or training other editors; publishing printed or online material related to editing
  • Receiving education and training—Taking courses or workshops, in person or online; attending presentations, webinars, podcasts or study groups; completing exercises; reading printed or online material about language, grammar, style, etc.; being mentored or trained by other editors
  • Volunteering (Editors Canada members only)—Performing volunteer work related directly to editing skills and knowledge, such as serving on committees and subcommittees for certification, professional standards, publications, training and development; marking certification tests; taking pilot tests
  • Working—Working in any capacity as a proofreader, copy editor, stylistic editor or structural editor as defined by Professional Editorial Standards (2016)
  • Other—Editing-related professional development activities that don't fall into the first four categories, as approved by the Credential Maintenance Subcommittee

What constitutes an editing-related credential maintenance activity?

Editing-related activities are those that help improve your professional skills and make you a better editor.

Participating in a workshop on effective business communication will improve your editing skills, for example, so it qualifies.

What kinds of activities don't qualify for credential maintenance?

Some of your activities may relate to your work but not qualify for credential maintenance points, because they don't pertain specifically to the skills and knowledge of editing.

Examples include:

  • Working as a technical writer—writing is not an editorial skill as defined by Professional Editorial Standards [2016]
  • Attending a branch or national business meeting—although these meetings are central to Editors Canada's operation, they don't directly involve editing skills
  • Attending or listening to a branch presentation about income taxes for freelancers—although this is essential knowledge, it doesn't relate to editing skills
  • Invigilating certification exams—although this activity is connected with certification, an invigilator doesn't see the exam or have any involvement with its creation or marking, and is therefore not using or developing any editorial skills
  • Reading an article on how to prepare a resume that will help you find more work—because this doesn't improve your editing skills, it doesn't qualify

Why don't all Editors Canada volunteer activities qualify for credential maintenance?

To qualify for credential maintenance points, an Editors Canada volunteer activity must directly relate to editorial skills and knowledge.

Although essential to Editors Canada operations, an activity such as serving on a branch or national executive, doing administrative work or undertaking a social task doesn't help keep your editing skills sharp and up to date.

To qualify for credential maintenance points, an activity must require editorial skills and knowledge. Examples include setting a certification exam, marking a certification exam and revising Meeting Professional Editorial Standards or Editing Canadian English.

Why does working as an editor qualify as professional development for the purpose of credential maintenance?

We believe working regularly is one of the best ways to stay current on changes in language usage, editing practice and the publishing and communications industry.

When you're working, you're learning—and actively practising what you learn. You may look up a grammar rule you've never needed before. You may learn how to use new editing software. A colleague may pass on a productivity tip.

If you stop working for an extended period, it's likely that your skills will get rusty, and you may become unaware of the latest trends in, for example, self-publishing.

Changes Related to the New Professional Editorial Standards (2016), Introduced in 2010

How did the introduction of the new Professional Editorial Standards (2016) change certification?

The new Professional Editorial Standards (2016) came into effect on January 1, 2017.

This document updates the old Professional Editorial Standards (2009) to reflect advances in technology, current working methods, and new forms for publishing.
The structure of the document—and therefore the structure of the exams based on it—remains the same.
The certification program continues to support your ongoing commitment to professional development, and ensures that your credentials remain current in the ever-changing world of editing and proofreading.

Professional Editorial Standards (1999) Professional Editorial Standards (2016)

A. Standards for Structural and Stylistic Editing

B. Standards for Copy Editing

C. Standards for Proofreading

D. Standards for Elementary Knowledge of the Publishing Process

A. The Fundamentals of Editing

B. Standards for Structural Editing

C. Standards for Stylistic Editing

D. Standards for Copy Editing

E. Standards for Proofreading

Because Professional Editorial Standards is the basis for certification, the testing framework had to be revised with the introduction of new standards in 2010.

The stand-alone exam for knowledge of the publishing process was eliminated, and questions and tasks requiring this knowledge were added to every certification exam.

Separate exams were also introduced for structural editing and stylistic editing.

Certification Under Professional Editorial Standards (1999) (2006 to 2009) Certification Under Professional Editorial Standards (2009) (2010 to present)
Four exams offered:
  • Elementary Knowledge of the Publishing Process
  • Proofreading
  • Copy Editing
  • Structural and Stylistic Editing
Four exams offered:
  • Proofreading
  • Copy Editing
  • Stylistic Editing
  • Structural Editing
To be certified in one area, candidate must pass two exams—one in the desired area and Elementary Knowledge of the Publishing Process To be certified in one area, candidate must pass one exam
Each exam includes questions and tasks concerning fundamentals of editing
Candidate may write each exam a maximum of three times Candidate may write each exam as many times as necessary until s/he passes
Candidate must pass all four exams within 10 years to become a CPE Candidate must pass all four exams to become a CPE, with no time limit

I started to pursue certification under an older version of Professional Editorial Standards. What does the change to certification based on Professional Editorial Standards (2016) mean for me?

  • If you passed any exams under the 2009 edition of Professional Editorial Standards, you retain those credentials and receive full credit toward the designation of certified professional editor.
  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of the publishing process exam and the proofreading exam under a previous edition of Professional Editorial Standards, you hold the certified proofreader credential and have fulfilled the proofreading requirement for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).
  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of the publishing process exam and the copy editing exam under a previous edition of Professional Editorial Standards, you hold the certified copy editor credential and have fulfilled the copy editing requirement for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).
  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of publishing exam and the structural and stylistic editing exam under a previous edition of Professional Editorial Standards, you hold the certified structural and stylistic editor credential and have fulfilled both the structural editing and the stylistic editing requirements for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

Is certification based on the old standards viewed as inferior or superior?

Editors Canada does not view certification based on earlier versions of Professional Editorial Standards as inferior or superior to certification based on Professional Editorial Standards (2016).

The standards published in 1999, 2009, and 2016 are equally well regarded.

All were developed by editors and publishing and communications professionals who were aware of editing practices current at the time.

Editors Canada views editors certified under the 1999 standards, the 2009 standards, the 2016 standards, and a combination of the three as equally well qualified to undertake editorial tasks.

  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of the publishing process test and the proofreading test, you hold the certified proofreader credential and have fulfilled the proofreading requirement for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).
  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of the publishing process test and the copy editing test, you hold the certified copy editor credential and have fulfilled the copy editing requirement for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).
  • If you passed the elementary knowledge of publishing test and the structural and stylistic editing test, you hold the certified structural and stylistic editor credential and have fulfilled both the structural editing and the stylistic editing requirements for CPE status under Professional Editorial Standards (2016).
  • If you passed any tests under the subsequent 2009 edition of Professional Editorial Standards, you retain those credentials and receive full credit toward the designation of certified professional editor.