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 to hire when you can Expectation exists that professionally produced documentation will be edited International outsourcing increases the need Clear communication is a valued skill or is it? 37Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 38. Editing choices No editing Self-editing Peer editing Writer acting as editor Manager as editor 38Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 39. No editing? Despite an increase in unedited communication E-mail, text messaging Blogs Podcasts . . . editing is still a widely recognized need 39Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 40. Self-editing? Good writers self-edit New writers should self-edit Editing checklist But technical communication needs more A fresh set of eyes An objective review A usability review Quality assurance 40Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 41. Peer editing? Can use in combination with a formal technical editor Most common alternative Difficult to allocate the time needed Difficult to maintain consistency Difficult to settle disputes Who will own the style guide? 41Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 42. Writer acting as editor Ad hoc appointment If editor moves to another group or quits Stopgap measure imposed by management Political consequences within the group Sink or swim for an inexperienced editor Opportunity for professional development 42Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 43. Manager as editor Can work in some situations If manager is experienced editor If group is new and uncongealed If group is small Blurs distinction between two very different roles Difficult to allocate time 43Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 44. Editorial checklist? 44Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 45. Editing cheat sheet 45Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 46. What do you measure? Defining quality and value Adhering to guidelines Meeting defined criteria Exhibiting quality characteristics Satisfying customers Improving usability testing Increasing productivity 46Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 47. Quantifying your measurements Any metric is valid: if consistent and applied appropriately! Begin with baselines, then use same metrics over time Track # of hours spent on various edits Develop metric for average # of pages per hour Track editing of new vs. changed pages Track percentage of deliverable edited Caveats: Some industry standards exist, but those based on your context and your productivity are best (for example, what is a page or a topic? what is the markup style?) 47Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 48. What makes your productusable/readable? Can it be readable and not usable? What about the reverse? What makes something well-written? What about localization/translation issues? 48Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 49. Readable or usable or both? Readability is commonly defined as reading ease. The Literacy Dictionary defines it as "the ease of comprehension because of the style of writing." In human-computer interaction and computer science, usability studies the elegance and clarity with which the interaction with a computer program or a web site (web usability) is designed ISO defines usability as "The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use." 49Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 50. Localization considerations Exclude all culturally-specific idioms, conventions and expressions since they are hard or impossible translate to another language Include the open written forms of all abbreviations and acronyms the first time they are used. And the rule here is: the less, the better Include a Glossary which should define all the technical terms and concepts used in the source document. Include a Unit and Measurement Conversion Chart Include a list of terms and concepts that should NOT be translated and used as-is since they may sound awkward in the local language when translated. 50Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 51. International edits Consistent wordingsaves money, adds clarity Passive voicesaves money, adds clarity Phrasal verbsnot speed up but accelerate; not look over but review Metric equivalentsuse them! Articlesclearer construction (XYZ allows air to intake manifold) White spaceuse itother languages will use it! 51Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 52. Thoughts on value Value of editing: can anybody do editing? Language correctness: how exacting? When do you yield? If customers wont notice, should you? Process and organizational flexibility: Are you willing to compromise? Interpersonal dynamics: Who has the authority? What if youre wrong? Do you justify every edit? Record keeping: Do you keep all edited drafts? A logbook? Lists of agreements? 52Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 53. Editors relationship to writingAn editors relationship to writing should be the same as a bartenders relationship to drinking . . . s/he should be fond of an occasional drink, but it shouldnt be a regular habit.(Gordon van Gelder, Night Shade Books discussion area: discus/messages/378/3395.html?1099195815) 53Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 54. My mentors adviceA good way to improve editorial skills is to teach someone else in a one-to-one, tutorial relationship. With a bright, assertive apprentice who questions and challenges every aspect of the work, youll find yourself reviewing rules youve grown careless about, looking up items youve taken for granted, sharpening styleall because you had to take a fresh look at things that had become so familiar you didnt even see them any more. Lessons from 50 years Editorial Experience, Lola Zook, Substance & Style, 1996, EEI Press 54Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 55. References for us all Training the Editor: Skills Are Not Enough, Lola M. Zook, STC Proceedings, 1967 Guide for Beginning Technical Editors, Wallace Clements and Robert G. Waite, STC-112-83 The Editor as Ally, Laurel K. Grove, Technical Communication, volume 37, number 3, 1985, pp. 235-238 The Motion Picture Editors Guild Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 4, July/August 1998 Localization-Ready-Technical-Copy-With-Pre-Production-Guidelines/30714 Jakob Nielsens Alertbox:Usability 101: Introduction to Usability Levels of Edit, edit/levels_of_edit.pdf 55Oestreich/20 Nov 2010 56. References (continued) Hart, Geoff. Effective onscreen editing. book.htm Baker, Donna L. Adobe Acrobat 9: How-Tos, 125 Essential Techniques. Adobe Press, 2009. Kelly, Will. How to Use Adobe Acrobat for Online Document Reviews. reviews/ Troffer, Alysson M. Editing Online Documents: Strategies and Tips. Proceedings from the 49th Annual STC Conference. Crognale, Heather. Long-distance editing: Tips for editors on managing the writer/editor relationship. Intercom, July/August 2008, pp. 17-19. Oestreich, Linda. Editing with heart workshop presentation to 49th STC Annual Conference, May 2002 Corbin, Michelle. Effective Editing Comments Webinar presented to TE SIG in 2009. Adobe Acrobat User Community: Zooks article Tice, Anne L., Data General, Levels of Edit: An Introduction and A Strategy, (presentation) 18 May 2000 Intercom, Dec 2001, Angie McNeill, Oklahoma chapter technical editing 101 56Oestreich/20 Nov 2010


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