Journalism tools for the modern copyeditor

Journalism tools for the modern copyeditor

October 14, 2019 By Dawn Stahl

Modern copyeditors work on a variety of materials in different industries. Because our interests and needs often intersect with those of other communicators and researchers, looking outside the niche of tools designed for editors can reveal an assortment of useful resources. Some of my favorite collections to rummage through are tools specifically developed for journalists — some of the most broad-ranging researcher-communicators among us — and those specifically developed to help us navigate the digital world.

The Journalist’s Toolbox has been around for a while but is still a relevant resource, an actively updated site devoted to directing professional journalists to tools they need for research, writing, editing, design, and more. Try This! — Tools for Journalism is a year-old newsletter with an online archive that helps journalists stay up to date with the best digital tools.


The Journalist’s Toolbox is supported by the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), a membership organization that is “dedicated to the perpetuation of a free press as the cornerstone of our nation and our liberty.” It works to educate and foster excellence in journalists, encourage the free practice of journalism, and “stimulate high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism.”

Mike Reilly, who created and directs this effort, has a master’s degree in journalism, worked in print journalism, and taught journalism at the university level. He is currently visiting professor of data journalism and multimedia at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is an SPJ digital trainer.


Navigating the Journalist’s Toolbox site is fairly intuitive. It is nicely laid out, with enough white space for ease of browsing, and is mostly well updated. There are a few dead links but not enough to put you off clicking the next one. It seems to be updated at least every few weeks, with new pages, sections, and entries highlighted on the homepage.

The home page provides:

It seems that searching for individual terms — “copyediting,” for example — retrieves what must be the last updated entry that uses that term. To get to the Copy Editing Resources page — the one you will most want to see — you have to click “Copy Editing” in the “Posted in” tags for that entry. Or you can click “Copy Editing” in the categories pane.

The category topics are geared toward journalists, of course, but many are useful for copyeditors of all stripes. There are more than 70 categories, mostly updated in the last two years. After the Copy Editing category, you may want to browse a few other recently updated, copyeditor-relevant resources:

The home page also links to, the SPJ social-media accounts, and the SPJ Blogs Network (with links to national and regional blogs).

Photo by Héctor Martínez on Unsplash (Photo by Héctor Martínez on Unsplash)


Along with other digital tools and resources, Try This! is financially supported by the American Press Institute and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It’s hosted and directed by the Poynter Institute, which was originally established by Nelson Poynter in 1975 as the Modern Media Institute. The Poynter Institute teaches journalists, teachers, and members of the public (“those who manage, edit, produce, program, report, write, blog, photograph and design, whether they belong to news organizations or work as independent entrepreneurs”) “what makes the best journalism work — whether the platform is print, broadcast or online.”

Digital tools reporter Ren LaForme has been tracking and developing training for digital tools for more than five years. About a year ago, LaForme launched the Try This! newsletter and has been publishing it weekly.


The Try This! newsletter purports to be for “everyone, whether you’re so digital you’re made up of ones and zeros or an internet neophyte.” That may be a little bit of a stretch; complete novices to the internet are probably not the target audience. I can attest, however, that each Monday issue of “bite-sized news, tutorials and ideas about the best digital tools for journalism” has something that will appeal to a general audience. For example, past issues have included a seven-dollar fix for the terrible videos we all shoot on our phones, a tool to record and share a web-browsing session, automated editing tools to help with final catches and polishing prose, a painless way to schedule meetings, help for cleaning up an unruly email inbox, and a guide for using more inclusive and empowering language.

LaForme writes in a familiar, approachable way and keeps his original promises to not overwhelm his subscribers with a bunch of new tools at once, to focus mainly on free tools, to provide tutorials for difficult tools, to never shame subscribers into using a tool, and to write only about tools that he has tried.

With the amount of information being moved or added to the internet every day — and the amount disappearing from the internet every day — it’s important for editors to learn to handle digital tools. Some of the best, and some of the best resources to learn about them, are designed for journalists but are excellent for copyeditors of all kinds.

Header Photo by Hunter Haley on Unsplash

This article was originally posted on the Copyediting website October 4, 2018.

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