(summary) Ratio of technical writers to technical editors

Subject: (summary) Ratio of technical writers to technical editors
From: Karen Neeb <karenn -at- firstlogic -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 25 Jul 2002 09:05:40 -0500


(Posted again on behalf of my editor --Karen)

Thanks to everyone who replied to my question last week:
For those of you working as technical writers or technical editors
in the
software industry, what is your current ratio of writers to editors?


This question was also posted to the copyediting list. All answers from both
lists appear below, along with several tips I received. Keep in mind that
the numbers below do not represent what is ideal, but what IS.

writers:editor
1:0
1:0
1:0
1:0
2:0
2:0
3:0
4:0
4:0
6:0
3:1
3:1
5:1
5:1
5:1
6:1
6:1
7:1
8:1
9:1
10:1
10:1
10:1
10:1
12:1
14:1
20:1 168:17 = 10:1 average

Two guidelines for calculating how many editors you need:

* The ratio varies all over the place, so what you may want to do
instead is calculate a productivity metric and use that to estimate how many
editors you need. For example, one commonly cited figure is that an average
edit or working on moderately difficult material that involves heavy editing
can produce 4 final pages per hour. That actual number is meaningless,
because it bears no relation to the work you're doing, the number of words
per page, your speed as an editor, or the number of interruptions you face
per day, but let's use it as the basis for a calculation. At 4 final pages
per hour and a 40-hour workweek, your average editor can handle 160 pages
without speeding up so much that quality falls. Now figure out how many
pages your writers generate per week. For every 160 pages, you need one
editor. Voila! All you have to do is plug in realistic numbers based on your
own situation and you'll have a reasonable estimate. --Geoff Hart

* JoAnn Hackos suggests a guideline of 10-15%. (Multiply the number of
writers by 10-15%, and that is how many editors you need.)

Thanks again!

Jody Roes
Technical Editor




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