Re: Editing/Writing Test

Subject: Re: Editing/Writing Test
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2013 02:55:57 -0400

On Mon, 18 Mar 2013 00:11:36 -0400, Kathleen MacDowell <kathleen -dot- eamd -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:

If you wanted to
test for content editing, you'd probably need to exert more effort than
messing up a couple of paragraphs.

I never knew how well content editing could be done until the first time that a superb editor ripped into some material I had written. The suggestions for better verbs and for rearrangement of paragraphs were incredibly accurate. In spite of the initial deflation of my ego, I had to agree that the result was a substantial improvement in clarity.

I never knew how badly any editing could be done until a self-righteous editor wrecked press-approved copy, changing spelling in 200 programming language examples, making each of them wrong. That's what appeared in the printed book. Confronted with the awful result, the editor >defended< the change. "That's how it's =supposed= to be spelled."

The simplest test for content editing consists of a set of three or four paragraphs containing a few misspellings, some split infinitives, and sentences where prepositions are use to end sentences up with. It's a trap, of course, because the material is backwards. Perhaps something like this:

1. Invert tank and open valve up.
2. Remember to immediately have collection jug beneath valve when open.
3. If vent is not first opened and lockted tank will collapse.

The perfunctory editor corrects only the obvious problems of spelling and grammar. The poor editor does not even catch those. Only the best editor recognizes the inverted presentation. The horrid editor starts an argument about passive voice, split infinitives or Oxford commas.
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Follow-Ups:

References:
Editing/Writing Test: From: Karen Felker
Re: Editing/Writing Test: From: Kathleen MacDowell

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