TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
>What do you do to *not* tread too heavily on engineer egos?
When I edit whole sentences or something of that nature, I write what the
correct or better text should be, but begin with "suggest:" before the new
text. Instead of drawing a line through the text, I circle it. Crossing it
out has too much negative symbolism and prevents the reader from reading
what's underneath the line sometimes. Also, I tell them why my changes are
better. If you give an engineer a reason, they'll do it. If you say "because
I know better" they won't. But, that's true with anyone at all, hmm? If you
do this enough, they'll know why you do things generally, and you won't have
to do it so much or perhaps not at all in the future.
If you treat them as more intelligent than not (don't talk down to them),
they'll follow your editing marks because they won't feel "corrected" as
much as helped by a colleague.
I haven't had any trouble with correcting small grammatical things.
Everyone knows that's not a derision. Everyone has to beware of editing
whole sentences and paragraphs--changing things that large are sure to hurt
Also: I use purple ink, not red. I do that for two reasons: red is
synonymous with "wrong" as far as editing comments go (in my mind) and it's
the color teachers use and if you're in the workplace, you're supposed to be
far away from teachers so red might carry just enough connotation to imply
that you're condescending to the person you're editing. Red screams "wrong"
to me. Maybe this perspective is too sensitive... Anyway, the other reason
I use purple is because I use purple ink for everything--I just love the
color. By being consistent with an unusual color, the reader ties the
editing comments with me personally because they know purple = me. By
establishing that kind of relationship, where the engineer reads something
from me personally as opposed to big red screaming impersonal teacher's
marks, the engineer knows that I'm the one making the marks and I think
people are more willing to go with changes if they're presented on a equal,
personal level and not from on high.
This is an awful lot of psychology to attach to ink color, but I've
always believed it.
Some part of my methodology works--I haven't bruised anyone yet and all
my corrections are made. :)
"Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words."
-- Mark Twain
TECHWR-L List Information
To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
E-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send administrative commands
ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-