How to Learn Editing

Great editing skills—especially video editing—can help your blog, website, or social media channels really stand out. We have the tips you need to hone your craft!

Learning Video Editing

Select a video editing software.

Popular video editing software includes Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Corel VideoStudio, Final Cut Pro, and Apple Final Cut Pro X. Search online for reviews and find an editing software that will run on your computer and fits within your budget. Free software also exists if you have limited funds.

  • Free software includes Movie Moments, Movie Maker, iMovie, and Magix Movie Edit Touch.

Watch tutorials online to learn how to use the video editing software.

There are free online resources that you can use to learn the basics of video editing. You can find tutorials on popular platforms like Youtube or Vimeo as well as editing-specific blogs and websites.

  • Popular tutorial sites include The Beat, Ripple Training, and PluralSight (Adobe Suite). Many of these sites have courses for a variety of software.
  • Choose tutorials for the specific software that you plan on using.
  • You can also sign up for paid classes with an accredited university or on sites like Udemy and Lynda for more in-depth instruction.

Collect video footage so you can practice.

Collect footage or take footage yourself and practice different techniques on the video. You can also search online and find stock footage that you can use when you’re first starting off. At first, practice with 30 minutes to an hour of footage. As you become better at editing, you can start cutting and editing larger pieces.

  • Popular stock footage websites include Dissolve, Pond5, and Filmsupply. You’ll need to purchase the license to use these clips.
  • You can get footage of yourself playing video or computer games with a webcam and video capture software such as OBS Studio,, and Nvidia Shadowplay.

Experiment with different transitions.

Transitions can include cutting, wiping, and fading. Take your footage and try to transition different pieces together. Don’t worry about having a cohesive story yet.

Add music to your video.

Try adding music to the video that you transitioned together. This could be a song or sound effects. Add the audio to a separate track by uploading it into your video editing software. From there, you can cut and alter the audio to your liking.

  • Classical music will make your scenes refined while heavy metal may make your scenes seem intense or dark. Take notice of how the music affects the video.

Add opening and ending credits to the movie.

Opening credits usually include the production company, the title of the film, lead cast, director, producers, and writers. The ending credits typically include all of the people involved in the creation of the film. Most video editing software will allow you to write text and place it on its own layer over the film. You can use the built-in tools to make the text fade and scroll.

  • You may also want to add text to have built-in subtitles if your actors are speaking different languages.

Create a short film with a storyline.

Once you get the basic techniques down, create an entire narrative and try to edit a full short film. Think of an idea for a story, then attach your video clips together for a cohesive story. Your first short film only has to be 5-10 minutes long.

Read books on video editing.

Once you get the basic techniques down and start to edit together your own films, you may want to learn more about the art of video editing theory. These books will give you more in-depth insight into all aspects of film editing.

  • Popular books include Behind The Seen, Making Movies, The Film Editing Room Handbook, and The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film.

Get a bachelor’s degree in film or a related field.

If you go to film school, you’ll learn the basics of video editing and will be able to network with other people interested in filmmaking. Viable undergraduate majors include film, digital cinematography, digital filmmaking, and production. Consider going to a college or university if you have the time and money and want to become a professional video editor.

  • A formal education isn’t always necessary to work as a film editor.
  • Some of the most popular film schools include the American Film Institute, Altos de Chavon Film School, Colorado Film School, and Hofstra University.

Doing Photo Editing

Consider getting a degree in fine art or photography.

A formal education will teach you the basic photo editing skills you’ll need in order to land a job in the industry. You’ll also gain friendships and build your professional network. Considering going to a photography or art school to get a jump start on your photo editing career.

  • Popular photography schools include Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Arizona, and Yale School of Fine Art.

Choose a photo editing software to use.

Before you get started, you’ll need to purchase and install photo editing software that’s compatible with your computer. You can also use in-browser photo editing tools.

  • Top photo editing software includes Adobe Photography Plan, Phase One Capture One Pro 10, and Serif Affinity Photo.
  • Free photo editing software includes GIMP, Fotor, and Paint.NET.

Watch and read tutorials online.

There are many free resources, courses, and video tutorials that you can watch online. Some tutorials can be found on sites like YouTube while others are created specifically for photo editing.

  • You can get free tutorials from Adobe and Tuts+.
  • Paid video editing courses can be found on sites like Lynda and Udemy.

Practice resizing, moving, and cropping images.

If you want to cut down a photo so that it only shows a certain piece of it, you’ll need to crop the image. Most editors will have a crop tool that you can drag around a certain area in the photo to crop it. You may also need to shrink a photo if it’s too large or increase the size of an image.

  • If an image is at an angle, you can also straighten and then crop an image to make it appear like the picture was taken on level ground.

Learn how to adjust the exposure and saturation.

The exposure changes the brightness of a photo. You can use it to correct over or underexposed photographs. Saturation will dictate how vivid and deep colors look in your photo. Use the tools in your photo editing software to manipulate the look of the image.

Use layers to your advantage.

You can layer different images over each other to change the look of your photos. Take a photo at a high and low exposure, then layer and use the blend tool to make dark and light areas of the photo pop. You can also layer different objects, texts, or images over a photo to completely change the image. Mastering layers will allow you to edit your photos much easier.

  • Setting a high opacity will make a layer transparent.

Adjust the hue and deepness of certain colors.

Photo editing software will have a bar you can use to adjust the hue of the picture. This will make the reds, blues, or greens in the picture pop. Adjusting the hue could give your picture a deeper and richer look. You should also learn how to select certain chunks of the photo and adjust the color, saturation, hue, and opacity. Learning how to manipulate colors and make them pop will enhance your photos.

Read popular photo editing books.

You can purchase a photo editing book to work on a specific aspect of photo editing, like color correction, or you can buy a general book to learn the basics. Reading these books will give you a better understanding of photo editing.

  • Popular photo editing books include The Photography Book, Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Photography Field Guide, and The Photographer’s Eye: Composition and Design for Better Digital Photos.

Becoming a Copyeditor

Take an online copyediting course. and the Poynter Institute’s News University are two websites that offer courses on copyediting. You may also find free tutorials or guides on websites like YouTube. Search online for other copyediting courses or tutorials and watch them to learn the fundamentals of copyediting.

Read the different writing stylebooks.

Stylebooks cover punctuation, source citation, and capitalization. Read manuals like The Chicago Manual of Style and the Associated Press Stylebook. These will explain the rules behind the edits that you are making.

  • Different publications will use different stylebooks.
  • The editing staff or editor in chief can tell you which stylebook is used for their publication.

Take online copyediting quizzes.

Look online for proofreading or copyediting quizzes. These quizzes will provide text that has intentional errors in it. This is a great way to practice if you aren’t in school or don’t have access to other people’s writing.

Offer to edit things that your friends wrote.

If you’re still in school, you can get practical experience with copyediting by helping your friends correct their work. Ask your friends if you can correct their paper before they submit it. Try to find errors in their grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you think a sentence can be structured better, leave them a note in the margin. Double-check their source citation and make sure that the piece of writing makes sense.

Follow editors on social media and join online proofreading groups.

Visiting forums and following current editors will give you more personal insight into the world of copyediting. Meeting editors online may also give you opportunities to network and find proofreading or copyediting jobs.

  • Popular proofreading groups include Copy Editors and Proofreaders, Editors & Copyeditors Forum, and the Freelance Editing Network.

Get a formal education in communications, writing, or publication.

Most copyediting jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree. While you can learn how to copyedit without a formal education, having one will give you the fundamental grammar and sentence structure instruction that you’d need to be an effective copyeditor.

  • Having a formal education is important if you want to pursue professional work as a copyeditor.

Message a copywriter and ask for an interview.

One of the best ways to gain insights into copywriting is to ask a working copywriter. Look for copywriters online and ask them if they would sit on a phone interview with you. Think of important questions like how they got started or what their day is like in order to get a better idea of how to get started.

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