Tips for Technical Editing
by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp — all-in-one help authoring tool
As our world is enriched with more and more technology every day, expertly edited technical documentation also becomes more in demand. And this is the task of a technical editor. A technical editor participates in the process of generating content with technical writers, reviews the documentation, and maintains the content up to date. Editing is a stylistic and linguistic assessment. The layout, designations, writing style, sentence structure, paragraphs, header/footer, and content are also corrected here. This not only eliminates errors but also improves the document as a whole.
Responsibilities of a Technical Editor
There are several types of technical editors but every editor:
- Ensures document accuracy.
- Reviews technical documents for clarity, grammar, spelling, punctuation, content, and style.
- Makes any necessary corrections to technical documents.
- Gives feedback and advice to technical writers.
- Ensures that all written content meets a company’s standards.
- Maintains quality assurance on all printed documents (like brochures, advertisements, or newsletters).
- Conforms to strict editing guidelines and security clearance protocols.
Now we have an idea of the technical editor’s responsibilities let’s see what problems he/she faces.
How to Stay Calm While Editing
Editing is a tough task that requires absorption and a structured approach. I’m sure that any editor has a checklist that contains all the relevant aspects of reviewing. But having such a list doesn’t guarantee that you won’t end up frustrating because of time pressure that usually arises at the time of editing.
The publication is oncoming, and everyone is waiting for the proofread document. This is the time when it is important to keep your feet on the ground. So here are some tips on how to manage editing without nervous breakdowns.
- Prioritize. The first thing to do is to define the sequence of tasks, from the most urgent tasks to the tasks of low priority. It may seem evident, but throughout the day, new tasks arise, and you may lose focus and simply forget, so make a list every morning and look it up from time to time during the day.
- Fight the repeated errors. Editors strive to standardize documents, meaning that texts are reused one-to-one when it suits them. If you find the same error in a text over and over again, you should stop and describe the error in detail at the first occurrence. Then ask the editor to correct the error globally via “Search and Replace”.
- Know your rhythm. Any person cannot be equally efficient throughout the day. Mark the time when you are particularly able to concentrate and the time when your concentration breaks down. As editing is a cognitively challenging task, you should be in tune with your own daily rhythm. When you feel that you’re losing concentration, do the routine tasks.
- Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the responsible expert for clarification if something appears ambiguous. Plus, you can apply the new knowledge gained from this document to future documents.
- Gather feedback. It is worthwhile to obtain input from other editors regularly. Editing errors that often creep in can be eliminated in the long run through mutual feedback.
- Maintain the order. There are a lot of tools for technical writers of different levels of complexity. But no matter how complex a system is, regular housekeeping and diligence can ensure that things are kept well organized, which facilitates the work of a technical editor.
Technical editors play an essential role by adding clarity, value, and usability to present a united voice of the document. They do not let something go because the content reflects their joint work with the authors. There are many challenges they have to manage. The majority of these challenges can be easily dealt with thanks to the simple tips above.
Have a nice day!
Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors