Re: what to look for in a Tech Editor

Subject: Re: what to look for in a Tech Editor
From: Jean Hollis Weber <jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 10 May 2003 19:40:52 +1000

Goober Writer wrote,

That's not what a tech editor should be doing. A tech
editor keeps style and process in check within a
writing organization. A tech editor may be a user
advocate, but the role primarily calls for enforcement
of standards.

You're describing a copyeditor's role. A _technical_ editor's role is much wider. See some of my articles in the Techwhirl magazine and on my website.

For example, in "Escape from the Grammar Trap" (, I say, "Too many editors focus on the details and don't pay enough attention to the bigger picture. Editors can--and should--add even more value through substantive, technical, and usability editing. Copyediting is important, but the details are only part of what an editor can and should be reviewing. After all, a document can be correctly spelled and punctuated, grammatically correct, use only approved terminology, and follow the style guide perfectly--and still not serve the audience's needs."

I'm presently writing a follow-up article to discuss what are the other things that I (and many other people) think technical editors should be doing. (See also my note in response to yours on the thread "Huh?")

BTW, Michelle Corbin, Pat Moell, and Mike Boyd have written an excellent article titled "Technial Editing as Quality Assurance: Adding Value to Content" that appears in the August 2002 issue of _Technical Communication_. They make essentially the same argument that I and others have been making for many years.

Regards, Jean
Jean Hollis Weber
jean -at- jeanweber -dot- com
The Technical Editors' Eyrie


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