Re: How to deal with incorrect editing

Subject: Re: How to deal with incorrect editing
From: "Chuck Martin" <cm -at- writeforyou -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 10:33:54 -0800

"whitedh" <whitedh -at- comcast -dot- net> wrote in message news:223665 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> A boss of mine once returned a document I authored after having red-lined
> every instance of my use of the verb "use," substituting "utilize" or some
> derivative. I asked him the meaning of "utilize;" he automatically
> "To use." He grimaced and growled "Okay." It wasn't so much that I won; I
> helped him achieve his own stated goal of delivering more easily
> documents in everyday English.
I'm guessing that, in the interests of sustaining a good working
relationship, that you didn't point out that the meaning of "utilize" isn't
really "to use."

Unfortunately, PHBs may say publicly thta they want more easily understood
documents, when they are goven the opportunity to edit, they frequenly makes
changes to match their own perceptions of how documents should read. If they
are used to dealing with marketing and legal and business documents, they
want our production to match that style.

I always try to emphasize that the goal is what's best for users. And
explain how wordy and passive content makes information harder to find. It
may actually dawn on them that we're actually an authority on the concept.

But I also say that like to have as many eyes as possible on the content.
Even the best writers are so immersed in their work that they may not always
catch better ways of saying or organizing things, and that I value all
input, even if I don't end up using it. I make it clear that just because
someone, even the boss, makes a change doesn't mean that it's correct (at
least when we're taling about grammar and usage and organization), and I try
to dicsuss and changes that I believe aren't in the best interest of the

I had a manager once who was an absolutely fabulous editor. I valued her
input and her red pen. Yet we didn't always agree, and because we were both
rather strong willed, sometimes our discussions became a bit
confrontational. But there was also a heavy dose of mutual respect, and even
though I bristed a bit at what I perceived as her button-down reliance on
large corporation-style process, I'd work with her or for her again at the
drop of a hat. Any hat.

Chuck Martin
User Assistance & Experience Engineer
twriter "at" sonic "dot" net

"I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. The day
may come when the courage of Men fail, when we forsake our friends and break
all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day! This day, we fight!"
- Aragorn

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given you."
- Gandalf



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