Resources for Exam preparation

Exam Resources

Exam candidates should begin preparing for the exam at least several months ahead of the exam date. The best preparation for the exam is working as an editor, but even experienced professional editors will need to undertake some additional preparation, especially if it has been some time since they sat any kind of exam.

Below is a non-exhaustive guide to exam preparation resources, organised by their general usefulness or by their relevance to a particular part of the exam,:

See Structure and format of the exam on the main exam page for a guide to these different parts of the exam.

General resources

Exam candidates are expected to be conversant with the knowledge and skills set out in the latest edition of the Australian standards for editing practice. Candidates should be familiar with the Standards and use them as a guide to areas of study. Some of the relevant standards are set out below to correspond to the different parts of the exam.


Style guides

Candidates are expected to be able to follow and apply a style guide. The default style guides for the exam are:

  • Australia: Style manual: for authors, editors and printers, 6th edition (Snooks & Co, Wiley, 2003)
  • New Zealand: Fit to print: the writing and editing style guide for Aotearoa NZ (Hughs & Wallace, Dunmore, 2010).

Candidates should familiarise themselves with the applicable style guide, and bookmark any particularly useful sections for quick access during the exam. For preparation purposes, familiarity with other published style guides will also be useful. Candidates may nominate an alternative style guide for the MANUSCRIPT part of the exam.

As of January 2020, two new Australian style guides are being prepared for release later in the year. The Accreditation Board and the exam development team will be assessing these new guides for recommendation for the 2020 exam. More information will be sent to candidates as and when these guides become available.



The Macquarie Dictionary Online (MDO) is the default dictionary for the exam and candidates will have access to the MDO during the exam. Candidates may also nominate a specific print edition of the Macquarie Dictionary or an alternative print dictionary for the MANUSCRIPT part of the exam. Candidates should ensure they are familiar with using whichever dictionary they choose to use during the exam.


Sample exams

Sample exams allow candidates to see the kinds of questions asked, to gain an understanding of the format, and to practise completing the exam within the time-frame.

See Sample exams for details.



Candidates who are IPEd members can seek a mentor to help in their exam preparation via the IPEd Mentoring Program.


Exam preparation webinar and workshops

Preparing for the IPEd Accreditation Exam webinar is a recorded webinar on general exam preparation strategies. Note, this webinar was recorded before recent changes to the format and structure of the exam, so it does refer to ‘Part 1’ etc. Difference in names aside, the content of the webinar still applies to the current version of the exam.

Most IPEd branches hold one or more face-to-face exam preparation workshops in the lead-up to the exam. Contact your nearest branch professional development representative for information or see the Events page on the IPEd website.


Study groups

Candidates may find joining or creating an exam study group useful. If you are a current member of IPEd and have a Facebook account, you may join Secret Editors’ Business (SEB) and then request access to Secret Editors’ IPEd study group, which is a closed group dedicated to preparing for the accreditation exam. Requests to join the group will be verified for IPEd membership by the group admins. Please note: SEB is not the property of IPEd and is not an official IPEd page. SEB and associated groups have been generously created and are managed by IPEd members on a voluntary basis.


Editing on screen

The exam documents will be in PDF and Microsoft Word formats. The exam is not a test of candidates’ ability to use advanced features of Word or PDF, but is a test of basic computer literacy and using Track Changes as core skills needed for editing today.

An IPEd webinar, Tour of the accreditation exam documents, will guide candidates through the sample exam documents, showing how to use them and the on-screen skills they will need during the exam.

Candidates should practise editing on screen, and ensure they are familiar with:

  • opening, saving and closing PDF files – including the ‘save as’ function – using Adobe Reader
  • filling in PDF forms
  • opening, saving and closing Microsoft Word 2016 files (Mac or PC) – including the ‘save as’ function
  • turning on and using the Track Changes function in MS Word
  • using the Comments function in MS Word to write author queries
  • using navigation panes and hyperlinks within MS Word and Adobe Reader for ease of moving around in the exam documents
  • working with multiple documents open
  • using standard keyboard shortcuts
  • using the Macquarie Dictionary Online (optional).

Resources for the LANGUAGE part of the exam

The LANGUAGE part comprises short-answer and multiple-choice questions on language skills needed for copyediting under Part D of the Australian standards for editing practice, namely standards:

  • D1 Clarity:
  • D1.1: Principles of clear expression
  • D1.2: Clear and logical connections between phrases, clauses, sentences, paragraphs and sections
  • D1.3: Punctuation to ensure clarity of meaning and ease of reading.
  • D3 Grammar and usage:
  • D3.1 Conventions of English grammar and syntax in different genres.
  • D3.2 Words and their meanings.
  • D3.3 Conventions governing expression of numbers, dates, percentages, measurements and statistical data; use of italics, capitalisation, bolding, underscoring, angle brackets, hyphenation, symbols and shortened forms; list formatting; citation of sources and quoted material in academic and non-academic text.
  • D4 Spelling and punctuation:
  • D4.1 Australian spelling and punctuation, and acceptable options in both, in texts for Australian publication
  • D4.2 Word usage, spelling and punctuation used in other English-speaking cultures as appropriate.

The resources below may be of most use in these areas.



Most IPEd branches hold workshops in grammar and related language skills at various times. Check with your branch or see the Events page on the IPEd website.


Suggested reading list

Any good grammar guide and style guides will be useful. Some other useful resources are:

Peters, Pam. The Cambridge guide to Australian English usage, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2007).

Murphy, Elizabeth, Working words, rev ed. (Lacuna, Armidale, 2019). [esp. Parts 4–6]

Murphy, Elizabeth, with Hilary Cadman, Effective writing: plain English at work, 2nd ed. (Lacuna, Sydney, 2013). [esp. Parts A and B]

Resources for the MANUSCRIPT part of the exam

The MANUSCRIPT part is a practical exercise comprising a short extract for editing and a style sheet, both in MS Word format, that examines copyediting skills under the Australian standards for editing practice, namely standards:

  • A6 Tools and software for editing practice:
  • A6.1 Common word-processing software for editing [in this case, Microsoft Word]
  • A6.5 Style guides or style manuals appropriate to the genre
  • A6.6 Standard mark-up symbols and conventions for copyediting and proofreading [in this case, Track Changes and Comments]
  • D1 Clarity
  • D2 Voice and tone
  • D3 Grammar and usage
  • D4 Spelling and punctuation
  • D6 Illustrations
  • E1 Integrity:
  • E1.2 Accuracy of cross-references … within the text [and] between the text and illustrations and tables
  • E2 Textual elements:
  • E2.1 An editing style sheet specific to the publication to ensure a consistent approach to textual elements …
  • E2.2 Explanations of symbols, terms and shortened forms, when required and placed appropriately
  • E2.4 Identification and review of statements where content seems to require checking
  • E3 Illustrations:
  • E3.1 Illustrations, where required, that are consistent, accurate, complete and relevant
  • E3.2 Consistency between text and non-text elements.
  • E4 Format, layout and production:
  • E4.2 Layout to correct problems …

For the extract, candidates should use the sample exam extracts and any document of at least 2000–4000 words to practise appling their copyediting skills and knowledge to ensure clarity, consistency and accuracy in the document. In particular, they should practise editing using Track Changes and Comments, especially if their everyday editing work is not in MS Word.


Style sheets webinar

Style sheets have proven particularly problematic in past exams, especially for candidates who do not regularly use style sheets. Even editors who use style sheets regularly should still be familiar with the format of the exam style sheet and how to complete it. Candidates should practise using the exam-format style sheet in their everyday editing work (whether a style sheet is required or not). Candidates wanting a refresher on style sheets should purchase the recording of the IPEd Style Sheet webinarNote, this webinar was recorded before the changes to format and structure of the exam, so it does refer to ‘Part 2’ instead of ‘Manuscript’. Differences in names aside, the content of the webinar still applies to the current version of the exam.

Resources for the KNOWLEDGE part of the exam

The KNOWLEDGE part comprises short-answer questions on general editing practice and knowledge, as defined in the Australian standards for editing practice, especially standards in the following areas:

  • A1 Professional knowledge and conduct
  • A2 Communication
  • A3 The publishing process
  • A4 Legal and ethical matters
  • A5 Design, typography and formatting
  • A6 Tools and software for editing practice
  • A7 Printing and replication processes
  • B1 Project definition
  • B2 Project documentation
  • B3 Monitoring
  • C1 Appraisal
  • C2 Structural devices
  • D2 Voice and tone
  • D6 Illustrations [principles of presentation]
  • E1 Integrity
  • E2 Textual elements
  • E3 Illustrations [relevance and relation to text]
  • E4 Format, layout and production.

If all or most of your work is in a single or highly specialised area, it may be helpful to spend some time refreshing your knowledge of general editing and publishing practices and knowledge. The suggested resources below are not exhaustive.


Editing handbooks

Most editing handbooks and style manuals cover the knowledge areas required for the exam, such as project management and professional ethics.

Butcher, Judith, Drake, Caroline, and Leach, Maureen. Butcher’s copy-editing: the Cambridge handbook for editors, copy-editors and proofreaders, 4th ed. (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2012).

Flann, Elizabeth, Hill, Beryl, and Wang, Lan. The Australian editing handbook, 3rd ed. (Wiley, Brisbane, 2014).

Mackenzie, Janet. The editor’s companion, 2nd ed. (Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, 2011).

Murphy, Elizabeth, Working words, rev ed. (Lacuna, Armidale, 2019).


Accessibility (Standards A2.3, A7.5 and E1.3)

The Accessibility and inclusion webinar will soon be available for purchase and download from the IPEd Events page – you may need to scroll down the list of events to find it.

The Australian Inclusive Publishing Initiative (APIA) website https://aipi.com.au/aipi-guides/ has two useful publications:

  • Inclusive publishing in Australia: an introductory guide (APIA, 2019)
  • Making content accessible: a guide to navigating Australian copyright law for disability access (APIA, 2019).

Ethical issues (Standard A1.5)

Ethical issues include, for example, objectivity, confidentiality, conflict of interest, and implications of editing particular kinds of material such as theses or indigenous content. Although the latter examples are examples of specialist editing, generalist editors need to understand and be aware of the ethical issues. Thesis editing guidelines are available on the IPEd website.


Legal issues such as copyright (Standards A4.1–A4.6)

General editing handbooks contain material on legal issues, but material in older books may be out of date. For more up-to-date resources see:


Plain English (Standard D1.1)

Murphy, Elizabeth, Working words, rev ed. (Lacuna, Armidale, 2019). [esp. Part 7]

Murphy, Elizabeth, with Hilary Cadman, Effective writing: plain English at work, 2nd ed. (Lacuna, Sydney, 2013). [esp. Part B]