“Higher education institutions need to give their students experience drafting, editing, and commenting on each other’s work online.” —Zimmerman and Yohon (2002)

I am currently helping to instruct an undergraduate copyediting course, and I’ve been surprised at how much our textbooks and our course rely on hand-written copyediting marks. As our world continues to move at full speed towards being technologically dominant, it is hard to see the editing world not moving in that direction as well. With more editing software becoming available, editing online is becoming a primary editing method for students and professionals in the editing field. In the article “An Assessment of Using Online Editing of Students’ Assignments in an Advanced Technical Writing Class,” Don Zimmerman and Teresa Yohon (2002) of Colorado State University put their students to the test to examine the effects of technology on their ability to write and edit. 


In their article, Zimmerman and Yohon (2002) conducted research to examine the perceived effects of online editing assignments, such as using Microsoft Word’s Track Changes in a university-level technical writing class. The class assignments included “a series of online editing exercises” that students completed using MS Word’s Track Changes and Comment functions.

The researchers conducted an online questionnaire at the end of the semester in order to assess the students’ perceptions of their experience completing the assignments. Students on average agreed that online editing was not only applicable to future careers but also helpful in improving their writing. They also agreed that online editing was easy to understand, easy to use, and interesting. Overall, they found the process time efficient. 


The results suggest that students had an overall positive reaction after using online editing tools in a learning environment. While editing textbooks and courses may still provide extensive instruction on the use of offline copyediting marks, and while those marks still have a place in many editing, publishing, and pedagogical processes, this study suggests that editing instructors could incorporate more instruction on online editing tools to the benefit of their students.

To learn more about the effects of online editing in a learning environment, read the full article:

Zimmerman, Don, and Teresa Yohon. 2002. “An Assessment of Using Online Editing of Students’ Assignments in an Advanced Technical Writing Class.” In Proceedings of the 2002 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference, pp. 259–70. https://doi.org/10.1109/IPCC.2002.1049109.

—Madeline Hill, Editing Research