Technical Editing in the 20Teens

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Mini-workshop given to #STC-SD in November 2010 on technical editing


  • 1. Technical Editing in the Twenty Teens Adding quality to our products through editing Linda Oestreich 20 November 2010 STC-SD Workshop
  • 2. Editorial wisdomThe work of a good editor, like the work of a good teacher, does not reveal itself directly; it is reflected in the accomplishments of others. The Motion Picture Editors Guild Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 4, July/August 1998 2Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 3. Who am I? STC Fellow & board member at chapter and Society level Strategic analyst Technical communicator: manager, editor, writer Teacher, trainer, instructional designer 3Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 4. Why me? Writer/editor for science/engineering Communications manager and editor for geophysical software development company Policy and procedures writer/editor for corporate offices of young software firm Executive of small communications consulting firm Editor for large software development firm Lots of experience in different roleswriter, editor, and manager 4Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 5. Who are you? Writers? Editors? Managers? Liberal arts? Science/tech/IT? Companies? Why here? 5Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 6. Warm-up exercise! Hurricane exercise Copy editspelling, punctuation, etc. 6Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 7. Topic Overview Whats in your editorial toolbox? Do the mechanics change? What makes your product usable/readable? Do you edit online or on paper? Whats it like in todays work place for editors/editing? References for us all 7Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 8. Whats in your editorial toolbox? Basic necessities & physical items Style guides (general & industry-specific) Dictionary/grammar checker Check lists (see ref) Editing system (proofreaders marks, etc.) Software Soft skills & knowledge base Use of English language Data presentation (information architecture) Content strategy Editing types/levels Editorial commenting People skills 8Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 9. Style guides Chicago Manual of Style Elements of Style GPO Style Manual American Psychological Assoc. Modern Language Assoc. Associated Press Council of Biology Editors Style Guide Microsoft Manual of Style 9Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 10. Proofreaders marks Insert letter Insert period Transpose Delete Lowercase a letter Uppercase a letter Italicize a word (unitalicize?) Boldface a word (unbold?) Stet 10Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 11. Why editing types & levels? Establish a common language Help manage schedules Facilitate budgeting and labor tracking Provide guidelines for peer edits Levels are based on combination of types to create higher and higher levels of attention and quality 11Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 12. 1. Sample editing types Copy edit Textual markup of language Grammar, punctuation, style Focus: Sentence-level, word-level Substantive edit Inserting queries or comments about the content Organization, usability, logic Focus: Topic-level, paragraph-level 12Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 13. 2. Sample editing types/levels1. Legal review Ensure compliance with legal requirements2. Format review Ensure compliance with publishing requirements3. Minimum copy edit Spelling, punctuation, accuracy, consistency, adherence to corporate and departmental style4. Standard language edit Appropriate for primary audience, organized appropriately, clear 13Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 14. 3. Classic Levels of Edit from JetPropulsion Laboratory (1976) Type Level of Edit Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5Coordination X X X X XPolicy X X X X XIntegrity X X X XScreening X X X XCopy Clarif. X X XFormat X X XMechanical X XLanguage X XSubstantive X 14Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 15. Editorial commenting Comments are statements that an editor makes to the author to improve the information. Types of comments: Imperative - an editing comment based on facts, guidelines, standards, or requirements and that must be addressed in some way Suggestion - An editing comment that presents an alternative way to address a problem and that the writer can choose to implement Opinion - An editing comment that represents the opinion of the editor and does not reflect a specific guideline, standard, or requirement. Query - An editing comment that aims at pointing out ambiguity of information, or that expresses a need for the editors enlightenment. Tone, style, and content 15Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 16. Comments in Acrobat 16Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 17. Objective editing Correct all misspelled words and punctuation errors Correct errors in grammar Coordinate text, figures, tables, indexes, breadcrumbs, etc. Check for consistency in such things as spelling, abbreviations, names of things, and numeral usage Check facts and references Mathematical/scientific notation Zero or O Tables & figures content 17Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 18. Editors and writers as allies Keep reader/user in mind Agree ahead of time on rules and roles Cosmetics or neurosurgery? (levels of edit) Ask questions: understand the purpose Listen and explain Review the logic Reference everything you change 18Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 19. Editor or predator? Exercise! 19Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 20. What traits make a good editor? Personality? Skills? Talent?Class discussion! 20Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 21. Editor or writer: do you agree? Typical editor traits: Typical writer traits: Generalist Specialist Wide focus (forest) Narrow focus (trees) Short project cycles Long project cycles Multiple projects One project at a time General familiarity Intimate familiarity with with many products a few products or services or services Likes stability Likes cutting edge 21Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 22. What about the mechanics? Any changes in last 50 years? Spacing? Language? Date driven What gray areas do you feel strongly about? Capitalization? Serial comma? Good style guides eliminate gray areas! 22Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 23. Reviewing punctuation, grammar,and usage Colons, semicolons, Lists and commas Subject/verb agreement Hyphens and dashes Dangling modifiers Parentheses and Noun strings brackets Passive voice Parallelism Style sheets! 23Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 24. Rewrite by using a list:You should sign block 23 of form 2139 if you make over $50,000, are a resident of the city, and are under age 65, or are self-employed in the city. 24Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 25. Untangle these danglers1. Now you can recondition your furs while hanging in the closet.2. By wearing carefully selected glasses, the scars were completely hidden by the side pieces.3. Being only 3 feet tall, you can easily see why the bus ran over the child.4. The couple sat watching the sun set in sandy bathing suits. 25Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 26. Misplaced modifiers The ticket agent told us eventually the train would arrive. Sharon decided the next day to start studying. A train stopped at our town only on weekends. 26Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 27. Humorous mistakes I once shot an elephant in my pajamashow he got there, Ill never know! 27Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 28. Active and passive Passive Mother Goose Hickory, dickory, doc, the clock was run up by the mouse. Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the moon was jumped over by the cow. The tuffet was sat on by Little Miss Muffet while her curds and whey were eaten. When the subject of the verb is acted upon, the sentence is in passive voice. When the subject of the verb acts, the sentence is in active voice. 28Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 29. Ambiguity After stirring for 10 seconds, add three drops of solution to the iodine mixture. The manager told Mr. Jones and then he told me. The records include all test reports for engines received from the new test facility. John said during lunch he would take a walk. 29Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 30. Five Cs always good baseline Clear Concise Consistent Correct Concrete 30Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 31. Practice There are at the present time in the vicinity of Dayton three similar systems installed and operating, and each system generates a monthly quantity of reports equal in volume to approximately one-half its total 2005 output (about 300 pages), then these reports are stored on location or distributed for reference purposes. 31Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 32. Practice reviews Trade papers with someone and let them edit your edits! 32Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 33. Do you edit on paper or online? On Paper? Benefits Challenges Practicality Online? Plain text Microsoft Word Adobe Acrobat/PDF Other programs? 33Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 34. Editing online or on paper? Two or more passes Online style sheets Spelling and grammar checkers Accepting and rejecting comments One editors opinion 34Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 35. Writer checklist: Completed when submitting information for an edit 35Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 36. Managing editing Changes Quality and metrics Getting it done Usability Localization needs 36Oestreich/20 Nov 2010
  • 37. Whats it like in todays work place foreditors/editing? How to get it done Who does it? How t...