Technical editing vs. technical writing? (take II)

Subject: Technical editing vs. technical writing? (take II)
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 2002 14:53:30 -0400

Bruce Byfield expanded on my message: <<From the way that I've usually heard
the term used, a "technical editor" is usually a substantive editor, with
exertise in the subject matter - not just a copy editor. That may or may be
implicit in your comments, but I thought the point should be stressed.>>

Both roles are important. In our business, it's hard to see how an editor of
any kind could do a good job without understanding the source material to a
greater or lesser degree. The additional expertise required to go beyond
copyediting to do true technical editing (which requires knowledge of the
subject matter) or substantive editing (which involves making sure the
material is effectively organized, factually consistent, and as easy to
understand as possible) may sometimes be required of peer reviewers rather
than editors.

In my experience, the precise breakdown of responsibilities depends on the
organization and sometimes on the specific project. The definitions of
editorial roles also vary widely.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"When ideas fail, words come in very handy."--Goethe

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