I manage a group of editors at a software company. This topic describes how we strive to achieve consistency in editing software documentation among a group of editors both within a department and across divisions in a large company. We have a staff of 14 editors that serve five large writing departments. Our editors are excellent grammarians before they come to SAS, but they also get considerable training and mentoring in SAS specific guidelines when they join our staff. I acknowledge that it’s impossible to achieve 100% consistency across all editors, but consistency is worth striving for for several reasons.
If you asked me what the most painful part of being a technical writer is, my answer would be: 'Getting reviews on time. Getting good feedback and inputs on your work.' For me technical writing has been very pleasurable because I hardly got any review comments. My morale has therefore been very high. Project managers, developers and others are so busy trying to come up with good software (read trying to fix all the goof-ups and bugs!) that they usually tend to give documentation lesser importance. User manuals, who reads them anyway? We do not have time for it!
Having demonstrated the importance of acquiring a double agent for writing projects, we now want to explain the best ways to successfully indoctrinate a double agent. This paper will help you prepare for, orient, train, and become a mentor for a double agent to help make him or her an effective member of your writing team.
Editing today covers far more than printed materials. In this discussion, I am assuming a technical editor may be required to deal with: printed materials (for example, books, pamphlets, quick reference cards); electronic (for example, online documentation, online help, web pages); video scripts; computer-based training materials. I am also assuming that the audience for the material being edited is not comprised of other technical people; or if it is, the editor is not the person responsible for ensuring the technical accuracy of the material.