Re: Editing comments too harsh?

Subject: Re: Editing comments too harsh?
From: Marci Abels <maa5906 -at- SMARTNET -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 18:48:22 -0500

At 08:45 AM 9/6/96 -0500, you wrote:
>In my recent performance review, my manager said there have been complaints
>about my editing comments being too harsh. Part of my job requires proof
>reading engineers' writing (I am the only tech writer in the company). I
>thought that I was being sensitive. Has anyone encountered this problem?
>What do you do to *not* tread too heavily on engineer egos?
>Vanessa Wilburn


That's a tough one, allright. What we've done is adopt a style guide -
Gregg's Reference Manual and we've written an internal handbook to cover
things that aren't in the style manual. Our internal handbook, includes
things like our manual completion schedule, a list of what we need from the
engineer to complete the project, and a standard form for the engineer to
sign off on when the manual is ready for review.

We've also deemed several terms "jargon" and printed an official glossary
and "words to look for" list. The WTLF backs us up on jargon, the glossary
defines terms we can use in the manual. Our handbook requires an 8th grade
reading level for our users, so that helps eliminate engineerese.

When an engineer and I have a disagreement about style, grammar,
terminology, and/or definitions, I pull out the style manual and/or handbook
for support. Engineers appreciate concrete, documented sources. They also
appreciate that I can get them a copy of my style requirements. (none of
them has yet asked for Gregg's, but the official glossary and WTLF are
provided to everyone in the company.

It doesn't eliminate the conflicts, but it does seem to tone them down. If
all else fails, I fall back on "I know how hard you work, please let me do
this stuff because it's my job. Yours is to design the product." _Always_ in
a somewhat placating tone of voice, of course.

Marci Abels maa5906 -at- smartnet -dot- net
Many of the insights of the saint stem from his experience as a sinner.
-Elbert Hubbard

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