Re: acceptable error rates

Subject: Re: acceptable error rates
From: Sella Rush <SellaR -at- APPTECHSYS -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 13:23:06 -0700

I once worked in an engineering publication department, where we did
final publishing preparation. Our team was constantly frustrated by
project managers (engineers) who, after weeks of concentrated effort and
untold author reviews, would come in screaming about a typo on page 967.
As if a single error corrupted the entire document.

My {grin} recommendation to my manager was that if the company wanted to
judge our work by the number of typos made, then that would be fine with
us. But the error rate would be computed by the page (or even the
word!), not by the document. Thus, a 1000-page document with two pages
containing an error would result in a .2% error rate, or a 99.8%
accuracy rating. That's darned good.

Seriously, typos happen, and they happen in inverse proportion to the
amount of time dedicated to preparing documentation. If management
really wants to use typos as a measure of good technical writing, then
they'll have to guarantee a realistic timeframe for every job (and
possibly authorize hiring a professional editor or proofreader).

Here's another thought--anybody can have two or three typos sneak in,
but if a document is peppered with them, thats when it becomes a
reflection on how well they do their job. At least the editing part of
the job--I once worked with a great writer who couldn't edit or spell
worth a damn. So he spent his working hours on what he did best and
left the editing and proofing to another team member who was good at it.

Sella Rush, Tech Writer
Applied Technical Systems, Inc. (ATS)
Bremerton, Washington
Developers of the CCM Database

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