Resources for Exam preparation
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,:
- General resources
- Resources for the LANGUAGE part of the exam
- Resources for the MANUSCRIPT part of the exam
- Resources for the KNOWLEDGE 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.
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. (IPEd is currently updating the Standards. Candidates for the 2022 accreditation exam should use the current edition to prepare for the exam until they are advised otherwise.)
Candidates are expected to be able to follow and apply a style guide.
New Zealand candidates should be familiar with Fit to Print: The Writing and Editing Style Guide for Aotearoa New Zealand (Hughs & Wallace, Dunmore, 2010).
Australian candidates may choose as their style guide:
- the online Australian Manual of Style (AMOS) published by Biotext–Macquarie (IPEd members received a discount on AMOS subscriptions): https://stylemanual.com.au/
- the free, online Australian Government Style Manual: https://www.stylemanual.gov.au/
All candidates will have online access to these two style guides during the exam.
The Accreditation Board and the exam development team are assessing other styles guides for the 2022 exam; approved style guides will be added to the list above.
All candidates may also choose to use the current edition of any other published style guide, but should be aware that they will not have internet access to online editions of style guides other than the two above-mentioned.
Candidates will be asked to nominate which style guide they are using in the exam generally. Candidates may also nominate a different style guide, including an in-house style guide, for the MANUSCRIPT part.
For preparation purposes, familiarity with other published style guides will also be useful. Although Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers, 6th edition (Snooks & Co, Wiley, 2003) is no longer accepted on style matters, it still contains much useful information on publishing matters such as components of a publication.
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 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.
Candidates may find joining or creating an exam study group useful.
Candidates should ensure that study groups only include other candidates and that information shared is obtained from the latest version of the Guide for Candidates, the IPEd website, or from the exam prep workshops run by the Accreditation Board.
Candidates should be aware that any unofficial advice or information received from past candidates (e.g. in Facebook study groups, including Secret Editors’ Business) is likely to be out of date.
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 webinar. Note, 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.
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:
- Australian Copyright Council website https://www.copyright.org.au
- Copyright Licensing New Zealand website, especially https://knowledgebase.copyright.co.nz/hc/en-us/categories/115000313154-Publishers.
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]