Re: Technical editing vs. technical writing (was: playing with ma rbles, or some such thing)

Subject: Re: Technical editing vs. technical writing (was: playing with ma rbles, or some such thing)
From: Janice Gelb <janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 Aug 2002 09:30:29 -0700

Jason Willebeek-LeMair wrote:

I think this is where we start getting into the levels of edit.

Here is what I (personal opinion warning) like to see from a technical edit:

1. Grammar/vocabulary/punctuation, etc. edits. You know, the mechanics.

2. Content edits. Making sure that when I use widget on page three, I do
not call it a thingamabob on page 23. Making sure that after I fall asleep
in my cubicle I pick up my thoughts and continue to travel in the same
direction. Making sure that I do not refer to IP as a group of magical
creatures that cause spam to appear in my inbox.

For this part, I want a TECHNICAL technical editor. One who is cabable of
using the technology, or at least understanding it. (I have horror stories
of helpful non-technical technical editors completely hosing information
then dismissing it with a "Well, I am more of a word person" Fine for #1
above. Not fine for #2, becuse the non-technical editor would have no idea
if thingamabob and widget referred to the same or to different things).


So, it depends. Can a technical editor be less technical than the writer?
Sure, but in that case, it would fall back on the writer to do the content

I disagree with this. Working as an editor for a large company
means that being technically familiar with all the technology
for all the products whose documentation one has to edit is
impossible. However, any editor familiar with the general
technological area would have enough knowledge to notice if
a similar object was being referred to in two different ways,
or at least to query it if s/he wasn't sure. And any good
editor is going to be able to tell whether information
flows in a logical, comprehensible way.

I've just edited the first 200 pages of a book documenting a
product I've neither seen nor ran. (I hasten to add this is
not my ideal scenario...) The editorial summary ran two
full pages and there were 7 serious content notes, not to
mention 3/4 page on structural issues for better organization.
Plus the actual markup, of course.

In my fantasy pubs group that would not be the case. The editor would be the
smartest person in the group, know everything, and treat the writer like a
puppy, dispensing cookies and belly rubs at random. Hey, this is my fantasy.
You don't like it, get your own.

Funny - that's my fantasy of how I'd like my writers
to treat *me* :->

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- marvin -dot- eng -dot- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address.

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RE: Technical editing vs. technical writing (was: playing with ma rbles, or some such thing): From: Jason Willebeek-LeMair

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