RE: What to look for in a technical editor

Subject: RE: What to look for in a technical editor
From: "Anuradha Biswas" <anuradhab -at- sct -dot- co -dot- in>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 19 May 2003 09:16:26 +0530

A couple of thoughts on this:

1. As part of the documentation cycle, all documentation goes through a couple of rounds of tech reviews - one by the Project Lead who understands the function/security/constraints/restrictions. Ant he other by a Product Manager who understands the business logic the best. At the end of these two, the documentation must be functionally and logically as accurate as possible.
2. The first round of edit reviews concentrate on individual functions/topics. They largely go over the structure, concepts, procedures, style guide compliance etc for individual topics.
3. The last and final round of tech reviews happen on compiled documents. These include reviewing the structure as a whole, the TOC, index, glossary, links, navigation etc.

Typically it is not possible/practical for a doc team to have several functional/product experts who are also reviewers. We solve a lot of problems by having functional presentations at the beginning of a product release. The writer understands and 'presents' several complex and critical functions to a varied audience. This is built into the doc plan. The reviewer gets a chance to understand the core concepts behind functions he/she is expected to review finally. This helps when reviewing documents for structure, content etc.

With language reviews there is always scope for improvement no matter how well edited. Grammar and punctuation are the easiest to get by. Between two editors, I have always found issues in terms of how much to edit and how much to treat as subjective and leave it at that. If its not inaccurate, and meets the requirements of the style guide, then let it be. There is also a question of individual writing styles which get pretty much stifled with so many rules, dos and donts.

Anu Biswas


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