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  Sub-editing for digital and print

The sub-editor is the writer's safety net. This hugely demanding role ranges from checking the clarity, accuracy and consistency of everything that goes out to an audience to crafting the headlines that sell newspapers and magazines, and pull readers to websites. This e-learning course dissects the role of the sub-editor – from catching misplaced commas to cutting copy to fit.  It provides a step-by-step approach to what must be tackled in a document.  You will learn how a sub-editor analyses news and features stories to see where they can be improved and turns an awkward opening paragraph into a guaranteed attention grabber. We also demystify the art of writing headlines and standfirsts that grab the reader. 

Suitable for:

Anyone who is asked to check other people's copy, whether for editorial, professional, academic or personal use.  Particularly useful for those who are taking on the role of sub-editor for a brand, whether print or digital.  Ideal companion to our Top 20 grammar mistakes and how to fix them and Proofreading for digital and print e-learning courses.

You will learn:

  • What a sub-editor should do
  • How to spot common mistakes
  • How subbing is different for digital and print media
  • How to take a systematic approach to a document 
  • The difference between subbing news and features
  • What makes a good intro for a news or feature article?
  • Why order is important
  • How to improve structure
  • Different approaches to headlines
  • What makes a good standfirst
  • How to improve captions

...and much more.

Looking for an in-company course?


Ask your tutor

The beauty of e-learning is that you can do it at a time and place to suit you.  But you won't be alone! 

Your trainer will talk you through the key points to improve your skills and knowledge, and at any time during your e-learning course, you can email your course tutor with any queries or comments.

.Course content includes
 What sub-editing is
 Editing material for publication
 Quality control - checking for accuracy, consistency and clarity of message
 Creativity - drawing attention to news and features by writing powerful headlines, standfirsts and captions
 Production - making sure copy fits and that deadlines are met
 The role of the sub

Checking facts
 Checking spelling and grammar
 Checking for mistakes
 Checking that copy is interesting, readable and relevant to the reader
 Checking queries with writers
 Checking for libel and copyright and other legal issues
 Checking house style
 Writing headlines, standfirsts and captions
 Reading proofs at layout stage
 Signing off pages and sending them to the printer
 Doing simple page layouts
 Writing copy for the contents page
 Making changes in QuarkXpress or InDesign
 Cutting copy to fit
 The skills and knowledge a sub needs
 Where the sub fits in the production process
 The importance of the reader
 Distinguishing between news and features
 Deciding what kind of copy you're dealing with
 Subbing them differently
 Subbing basics
 What always needs to be checked
 Consistency of information
 Is the language right for your readership?
 How news stories are structured
 The elements that make a good introduction
 The inverse news pyramid
 News language
 A checklist for subbing news
 A step-by-step approach to subbing a feature
 Comparing it to the brief
 Making a mini assessment
 Checking the structure
 Checking the intro
 Checking the conclusion
 How subbing online is different to subbing for print
 Online readers and how they differ
 Rewriting copy online including key words and helping the search engines
 Building and fostering sound relationships with good, valuable writers
 The elements of strong headlines and what they must do
 Styles of headlines for news, features and online copy
 Techniques for writing strong headlines
 The role of the standfirst or "sell" and what it does
 How standfirsts are used and how to write good ones
 Your complete Subbing System

Exercises and quizzes

 To check your understanding of the theory, during this e-learning course you will be quizzed on all aspects of sub-editing.

Top tips and checklists

 Handy tips and checklists at key stages of the course.  These cover vital topics including: thinking like the reader and always having them in your mind's eye; checking every detail; ensuring continuity when making changes; the inverse news pyramid and where to make cuts; looking for anecdotes/quotes for a conclusion; headlines and standfirst devices; adding some context or detail to the caption.
.Feedback from the trainer
 Our expert trainers are here to provide you with invaluable one-to-one feedback on your progress.  Email your subbed copy and the trainer will supply you with individual guidance, comments and practical suggestions.  Then, once you've improved your work, the trainer will appraise your revised content and provide a second set of constructive comments.  This unique feedback really brings your e-learning to life and makes sure you have truly grasped - and applied - all of the key principles.
Timing: You can dip in and out of this e-learning course as often as you like.  It should take you approximately 2-2.5 hours in total to complete.  You can work at your own pace and go back at any time, to any part of the course.

If you have any queries, we’d be delighted to help, just email us.

Please note that this course is intended for speakers of English.


Sub-editing is £105 + tax per user * which gives you full unlimited access to the course for one month.

If you want to add personal one-to-one trainer feedback to the course, the price is £155 + tax.

If you feel you need feedback at a later stage, you can request it then.

* Discounted rates for multiple users are available.   The discount applies to this course or a mix of e-learning courses.


You can:

. Buy this e-learning course now

. Try e-learning before you buy

. Meet the trainer, Karen May 

. Email us to buy this e-learning course or discuss bringing it into your company for multiple e-learning users

. Find out more information on tailored face-to-face training


If you would like to receive a Certificate when you have completed your e-learning course, please just let us know and we will arrange for one to be sent to you.


About us

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ETC is the UK's leading training provider for professionals working in media, marketing services, PR and corporate communications.  We provide training for maximising your media, communications, print and digital content. 

We give you a totally flexible approach to your learning and development, both in content and delivery.

Call us on 00 44 (0)1428 722105 to see how we can help you and your staff.  Read more...

Training Consultants

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Learn direct from the best in the industry.  Our consultants, trainers and writing specialists are all experts in their field, and work with Europe's leading media owners, publishers and content providers to improve skills, efficiency and creativity.  Read more...

Contact us

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Please let us know if you want to learn more about our e-learning or tailored in-company training.

You can email us or call on 00 44 (0)1428 722105 to discuss your needs in more detail.

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ETC is pleased to work with and recommend a growing number of carefully selected partners.  Meet our partners here...

Creating content

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We have a large pool of expert talent available to create high quality content for your print or digital projects.

Our award-winning writers can help you create web content, online communication or persuasive marketing copy.  Read more...

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