Re: Editing Issues and what-nots

Subject: Re: Editing Issues and what-nots
From: Barb Philbrick <caslonsvcs -at- IBM -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 15:01:27 GMT

>> I seem to be unable to edit my own work.

>Do other tech writers feel the same way about this? Is this the
>distinction between a senior tech writer and just a tech writer?)
No! It's one method of working vs. another. I agree with your later
rant -- there's no better way to quench creativity in the early stages
of writing than to be attempting to produce perfect prose.

I also have to edit my own stuff. Here's what I try to do:

1. I write the initial draft in a flow where I don't care if it's
grammatically correct or not. Some of this draft gets trashed, but
some of it includes some of my better ideas.

2. I read through the draft, making corrections and checking content.
My focus at this stage is still primarily on content and organization,
but I fix any grammar errors I spot.

3. I edit the document in several passes. I check different groups of
items on each pass. I generally check these items in this order:
a. Title page, headers, and footers.
b. Table of contents, list of figures, and list of tables. (This is
an organizational check as well as a grammar check.)
c. Graphics (make sure nothing's cut off and call-outs are correct).
d. Text.

I find that breaking the tasks out keeps me from getting distracted
and forgetting to check some element of a page.

4. If possible, I set it aside for a week, then reread it. It's
amazing what sneaks into a document in a week!


Barbara Philbrick, Caslon Services Inc.
Technical Writing. caslonsvcs -at- ibm -dot- net
Cleveland, OH

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