Subject: Editors
From: Janice Gelb <janiceg -at- MARVIN -dot- ENG -dot- SUN -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 1997 09:45:51 -0800

Stacey Marner writes:
> I am brand new to this field and was hired as an editor in a very
> technical environment. I was a high school English teacher so I've
> never been exposed to all the tech talk, etc. except through my
> husband. Now I'm reading that stuff for clarity and, although it's
> gotten a lot better, I still don't have practical knowledge about what
> I'm reading. Does this matter?

I've been an editor nearly all my working life, around 17 years now,
and even majored in newspaper editing in college. I firmly believe
that a good editor can make nearly any document better even if he or
she does not have a background in the subject matter. Obviously the
more familiar one is with technical jargon and common expressions in an
industry the fewer questions one needs to ask of the writer and the
faster the editing goes. Generally, however, I've found that the
problems with the documents I see tend to err more on the side of
structural problems and clarity of expression rather than technical

Also, as Wayne mentioned, I've often found technical problems not
by knowing the background technology but by noticing inconsistencies.

> I was also just curious how the
> editing/tech writing situation is handled in different companies. Are
> they usually the same person or do you just do a lot of peer editing?
> Here I usually only get to read through a document once before it goes
> out the door.

There is an unfortunate lack of dedicated editors in most high-tech
companies, since the emphasis is usually more on getting the documents
(a) accurate and (b) out the door, rather than making them useful to
the reader! Also unfortunately, a single pass is often all we get due
to the time pressures on the writer.

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with this
janiceg -at- marvin -dot- eng -dot- sun -dot- com | message is the return address.

"Usenet is like Tetris for people who still remember how to read"


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