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Subject:Ideas for Pat Dorazio From:Patrick Moore <Epmoore -at- AOL -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 26 Apr 1995 15:27:15 -0400
To Pat Dorazio:
Here are a few ideas for your editing course:
(1) Have something on editing graphics, using Edward R. Tufte's "The Visual
Display of Quantitative Information." I have never used the book in an
editing class (though I have used it elsewhere), but editing graphics is a
very important skill. Tufte, as you probably know, covers such things as
graphical integrity, data-ink ratio, and chart junk. You can have students
find some bad graphics, and then edit or revise them. I have used the book
again this semester in a document design class that I am teaching, and it
went over very well.
(2) One way to edit manuals is to run a usability test on them. Seeing
editing as usability testing may (or may not) be a bit unusual, but it could
be worth your time. I used Dumas and Redish's book, "A Practical Guide to
Usability Testing" last semester in an instructional design seminar to have
students revise an existing manual from the campus computer center. I did
not call it editing, but it may as well have been that. Dumas and Redish's
book is exceptional, very meticulous, thorough, and accessible, and the
classes went very well. The students really felt empowered by this nifty
technique for finding out if documents actually worked the way they were
supposed to work with users.
(3) A final idea might be a segment on editing documents for international
audiences. William Horton has sections on that in two of his books, the one
on icons, and the one called "Illustrating Computer Documentation." There's
a new book out from John Wiley by Nancy L. Hoft titled "International
Technical Communication." I have not read it, but if it is like the other
books from John Wiley, it is probably pretty good. Based on the little blurb
I have in front of me, Hoft's book has sections on managing editing projects
(which is a whole world unto itself), performing an international user
analysis, writing for translation, and designing Online documentation. It
could be useful.
So, off the top of my head, a very rough sketch of a syllabus for your
15-week course might look like this:
Weeks 1-5: The standards of editing (e.g., audience analysis, paragraph and
sentence problems, punctuation, abbreviations, numbers and symbols,
specialized terminology, quotations, indexes, etc.) , using works like
Philip Rubens' "Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style," the
"Chicago Manual of Style," Peggy Smith's "Mark My Words," and/or Joseph
Williams' "Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace."
Week 6: Using the Internet (mail lists, chat lists, etc. [like this one])
to get solutions to editing problems and queries. Have students do an
"ask an expert" exercise on the Internet. That is, if they encounter
some editing problem, have them put out queries over some list and get
answers. It teaches them about the Internet, and, of course, it introduces
them to a resource they can use for the rest of the term and the rest of
Weeks 7-10: Editing as usability testing (see above).
Weeks 11-13: Editing graphics (see above).
Weeks 14-15: Editing for international audiences (see above).
Good luck. If you need any more information, feel free to contact me.
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 So. University
Little Rock, AR 72204