Know where to find what you need to know
     Writers and copy editors need to have a sound base of general knowledge. Quizzes and exercises are designed to help you expand your general knowledge base. Here are some indications of the type of material you will be expected to know about each of those topics. (Be sure to read “study tips” to find out the best way to bone up on the information you need to know.) 
     The late John Bremner, who taught editing at KU for many years and was a icon in the world of editing, used to say that a copy editor should know something about everything and everything about something. The thinking is that editors never know what types of stories they might handle from day to day. A broad range of knowledge is a must. Errors in these and similar facts will make you and the publication you work for look foolish. Your job as an editor is to see that that doesn’t happen. This list is by no means comprehensive. It is simply a sampling of the things that an editor should know.

    GeographyYou should be able to identify each of the 50 states on a map that outlines the state boundaries. You should know the state capitals. You should be familiar with the Great Lakes and with the names and locations of the nation's major rivers, mountain ranges, etc. You should know the names, shapes and locations of the continents. You should know the oceans. And you should have some familiarity with such things as the longest river, the highest mountain, the largest desert, etc. You should know the capital cities of some of the major nations of the world (see International People and Places below).
    In addition, you should be able to:
    — Identify these countries on a world or regional map: Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sudan .
    — You should know the general locations of these bodies of water and be able to identify them on a world map: The Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific and Southern oceans; the Mississippi , Missouri , Amazon, Nile and St. Lawrence rivers; the Great Lakes, the Great Salt Lake, the Caspian Sea and Lake Victoria; the Mediterranean and Caribbean seas, and The Gulf of Mexico .
     For help with geography, see or

    U.S. HistoryYou should know about William Allen White. You also should know about when the U.S. Revolution, the Civil War, World War I and World War II were fought. You should be familiar with some of the famous personalities in this country's history, including Douglas MacArthur, Samuel Gompers, Norman Rockwell, Martin Luther King, John D. Rockefeller, George Washington Carver, Steven Foster, John L. Lewis and all of the presidents. And you should have some knowledge about some of the more sweeping Supreme Court rulings, such as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Miranda vs. Arizona, and Roe vs. Wade. 

    U.S. Government You should know basic information about the president and vice president, and you should know the names of the 14 Cabinet positions and the names of the incumbents for at least the secretaries of State, Defense, Treasury and the attorney general. You should know the names of the two U.S. senators from Kansas. You should know the number of seats in the U.S. Senate and in the House of Representatives.You should be able to recognize the names of the members of the U.S. Supreme Court as well as those of famous U.S. senators and members of Congress. You should be familiar with the Constitution, particularly the ideas embraced in the First Amendment. 

    U.S. People and Places:
    1. The president of the United States.
    2. The vice president.
    3. The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
    4. The House minority leader.
    5. The U.S. Senate majority leader.
    6. The Senate minority leader.
.   7. The secretary of state.
    8. The chief justice of the United States.
    9. The associate justices of the Supreme Court.
  10. The population of the United States.

    Kansas People and Places: Here are some names and places you should know:

     1. The governor of Kansas.
     2. The population of Kansas.
     3. Locations of the following cities in Kansas:
         Northeast — Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City, Olathe, Manhattan.
         Northwest — Goodland, Colby.
         Central: Salina. 
         South central — Wichita, Hutchinson.
         West central — Hays.
         Southwest — Dodge City, Liberal.
         Southeast — Pittsburg

   Lawrence and Douglas County Here are some names and places you should know:
     1. William S. Burroughs was famous writer of the Beat Generation (author of “The Naked Lunch” and other works) who lived near the KU campus in Lawrence in his later years. He died in 1997.
     2. Langston Hughes was famous African-American writer of the Harlem Renaissance who lived in Lawrence as a child.
     3. Jim Brothers is a Lawrence sculptor who made the statues for the D-Day Memorial in Bedford , Va.
     4. William C. Quantrill was Confederate guerrilla who burned Lawrence to the ground in 1863.
     5. The chancellor of the University is Bernadette Gray-Little.
     6. The KU dean of journalism is Ann Brill.
     7. The KU men’s basketball coach is Bill Self.
     8. The KU women’s basketball coach is Bonnie Henrickson.
     9. The KU football coach is Charlie Weis.
   10. The four cities in Douglas County are Lawrence, Baldwin City, Eudora and Lecompton.

    World HistoryYou should know a bit about some of the great explorers such as John Cabot and Hernando de Soto. Similarly, you should be able to recognize the names of such historic figures as Winston Churchill, Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler, Nikita Khrushchev, Charles DeGaulle, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung, Nelson Mandela, Josip Broz Tito and Napoleon Bonaparte. 

    International places —   You should know the following:

     1.  Name the capitals of the following countries: a.Great Britain (London); France (Paris) Germany (Berlin); Russia (Moscow); North Korea (Pyongyang); South Korea (Seoul); Afghanistan (Kabul); Mexico (Mexico City); Canada (Ottawa); China (Beijing); Iran (Tehran); Italy (Rome); Israel (Jerusalem); Japan (Tokyo); Iraq (Baghdad).
     2. The population of the world is about 7 billion and rising.

    Economics — You should know who Adam Smith was. And you should know the approximate size of the federal deficit. You should be familiar with such terms and concepts as the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, shareholders, bull and bear markets, inflation and the gross national product. 

    Art and Literature— You should be familiar with some of the great artists and authors, such as Leonardo da Vinci, George Bernard Shaw, Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Thomas Hart Benton and Charles Dickens. 

    World Religions — You should know main religions of the world and something about their basic reliefs. And you should know where to learn the number of followers for each. You should know where to locate the names of the books of the Bible. And you should be familiar with some of the major religious figures such as Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Martin Luther, Mohammed, Pope John Paul II and Billy Graham. 

    Science — You should be familiar with some of the great discoverers and inventors such as Thomas Edison, Johann Gutenberg, Sigmund Freud, Jonas Salk, Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur. You should know how to locate quickly the names of the chemical elements.

    Sports — You should know the names of the major sports figures at KU including Bill Self, Charlie Weis, Sheahon Zenger, Bonnie Henrickson and many others. You should know the names of the universities in the Big 12 Conference. You should be familiar with the names of major athletic events such as the football bowl games, the Triple Crown horse races, the Indianapolis 500 auto race, the Masters golf tournament, the Final Four basketball tournament, the Wimbledon tennis championships and the America's Cup. And you should be familiar with the names of famous figures in sports, such as Babe Ruth, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Vince Lombardi, Sam Snead, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial. 

    Study tips — If you haven't read study tips yet, now would be a good time. 

Updated May 16, 2013