A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Technical Editing

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Technical documents provide information that readers need to make decisions or complete tasks. Technical editing ensures that this information is presented in a way that facilitates the reader's understanding. Technical editors offer suggestions for improvement in design of both content and layout and therefore work with the document in both early and late stages.



The ABCs of Writing a Technical Glossary   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article identifies and explains format rules, style rules, and lexicographic conventions that have been shown to improve clarity and precision in a technical glossary. Rationale for the rules of language, presentation, and style are examined. The need to allow flexibility in following the rules is discussed in terms of strengthening the technical merit and vitality of the glossary. This article also describes the computer-display techniques and file-management system used in committee to develop U.S. Federal Standard 1037C, Glossary of telecommunication terms, and to display the results both in the meeting room and on the Internet between meetings.

Gray, Evie, William Ingram and Dennis Bodson. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Glossary


Achieving Consistency among Editors

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.

Moell, Patricia G. STC Technical Editing SIG (2010). Articles>Editing>Collaboration>Technical Editing


Alternatives to the Paragraph

'It's all in the manual.' How many times have you heard that - or said it in frustration? After all, when you are the person who wrote the manual, you know that all the answers are there. But time and again readers can't find what they need to know, or don't understand the material. Before you blame the reader, look again at how you've presented the material.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1989). Articles>Editing>Technical Writing


Ask the Indexer: Get Answers to your Indexing Questions from Experienced Technical Indexers  (link broken)   (PDF)

After brief introductions by 4 panelists who are all members of the Indexing SIG (and experienced indexers and technical writers), we plan to discuss Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about indexing, and allow plenty of time for questions.

Bonura, Larry S., Dick Evans, Joan K. Griffitts and Peg Mauer. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Indexing>Technical Editing>FAQ


Assessing the Overall Quality of a Document Based on Editorial Comments   (members only)

Technical writers are often responsible for creating and maintaining multiple documents. In organizations where a formal editorial review is integral to the documentation process, technical writers who own multiple documents might need to address a huge volume of editorial input, often received late in the documentation cycle. What do all of those editorial comments, when taken as a whole, really mean in terms of the overall quality of the document? Lots of red ink might mean either that the document is in bad shape or that the editor loves to explain every comment, however minor, in great detail. On the other hand, a short comment buried on page 63 might turn out to be the single most important editorial value-add for the entire document!

Dhanagopal, Kumar. Intercom (2010). Articles>Editing>Technical Translation>Documentation


Becoming a Journal Peer Reviewer   (PDF)

This session will help participants understand the process for reviewing manuscripts submitted to Technical Communication. It covers the types of articles the journal publishes, review procedures and criteria, and approaches to writing constructive evaluations.

Hayhoe, George F. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Editing>Technical Editing


Benchmarks for Estimating Editing Speed

But editing must surely take longer than reading. Maybe it takes, say, five times longer. That would mean editing about 12 pages per hour. Sounds good. Just read the page five times, and out pop the edits. Actually, that heuristic may hold true for a simple edit, but substantive editing takes more time - 15 to 60 minutes per page, some experts say. So, how long can editing take?

McClintock, David W. STC Technical Editing SIG (2003). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Estimating


A Brief Introduction to Technical Style

Technical style conveys information about a scientific or engineering topic concisely and clearly. Technical style emphasizes means, actions, and results more than human agents.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Editing>Style Guides>Technical Editing


Common Errors to Avoid in Scientific Writing

This handout defines and shows examples of grammar, usage, and style errors commonly seen in undergraduate writing in the sciences. During class, students might be asked to revise each example.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Scientific Communication>Technical Editing>Grammar


Controlled Languages in Industry  (link broken)

A Controlled Language is a form of language with special restrictions on grammar, style, and vocabulary usage. Typically, the restrictions are placed on technical documents, including instructions, procedures, descriptions, reports, and cautions. One might consider formal written English to be the ultimate Controlled Language: a form of English with restricted word and grammar usages, but a standard too broad and too variable for use in highly technical domains. Whereas formal written English applies to society as a whole, CLs apply to the specialized sublanguages of particular domains.

Wojcik, Richard H. and James E. Hoard. Oregon Health and Science University (2005). Articles>Language>Technical Editing>Controlled Vocabulary


Coping with Wordslaughter and the "Good Enough" Syndrome   (PDF)

Connatser provides advice for technical editors who aren't granted enough time or money to perform extensive revisions on poorly written documents.

Connatser, Bradford R. Intercom (2004). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing


Copy Editors and Technical Editors: We are Family   (PDF)   (members only)

The authors of this paper have the unusual background of having worked in both the newspaper (copy editors) and business (technical editors) fields, which are not as diverse as people might think.

Huth, Elizabeth Ann and Kevin J. Schmidt. STC Proceedings (1995). Careers>Editing>Technical Editing


Courses for Technical Editors in Australia

I don't know of any tertiary-level courses in Australia specifically for technical editors, although there are several programs for general editors or journalists. I'll add information to this page as I find it.

Technical Editors Eyrie. Academic>Courses>Technical Editing>Australia


Creating an Anthology on Editing

Pulling together New Perspectives on Technical Editing, an anthology on editing, was a complex, yet exhilarating experience. The process fell into four stages.

Murphy, Avon J. Corrigo (2009). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Case Studies


Creating Editorial Authority through Technological Innovation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article considers a case in which editors created for themselves an amount of power and authority within an organization through technological innovation. Using retrospective analysis and e-mail interviews, the author discusses his own previous experience as a technical editor at a U.S. Government-run research facility when electronic editing was introduced and used. The introduction of electronic editing, the author argues, was an example of technological innovation, which, as other researchers have demonstrated, can create authority within an organization.

Lanier, Clinton R. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Technology>Technical Editing>Case Studies


Creating Perspective Shadows

Perspective—it’s one of the first things you learn about in any art class. The basic idea is that it’s the way your eye actually sees something, represented on a flat surface such as paper or a monitor. A simple example is drawing a group of objects: You represent an object in the distance by making it smaller, while making objects close to the viewer larger—make sense? In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to create perspective shadows in Adobe Photoshop CS3. The result is dynamic, but the technique is a breeze!

Gray, Lawrence. Event DV (2008). Articles>Graphic Design>Image Editing>Technical Illustration


Customizing Clipart  (link broken)

Like many of you, I come from a training background. Like many of you, we’re experts in group facilitation, engaging our learners, and creating instructionally sound materials. Yet, many trainers are not graphic artists nor do we have a score of graphic artists helping us create our training presentations. As a result, our training presentations often may not adequately represent the professionalism and quality that we’ve built into our training.

Traut, Terence R. Presenters University (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Image Editing>Technical Illustration


Demonstrating the Value of Editing

Like all other technical communicators, we editors must sometimes struggle to prove our worth to employers. We know our value, and the more clueful of our authors understand, but sometimes it takes a bit more work to convince senior managers that we serve a useful purpose. Managers generally require specific examples, usually supported by hard numbers. In this article, I’ve provided a few random facts and figures that I’ve accumulated over the years that you can share with management.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Corrigo (2007). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing


Developing Indexes  (link broken)

As a technical writer, you'll typically have to create indexes for the print books and for online helps you develop. The type of index we mean here is the classic back-of-book index that shows page numbers on which topics and subtopics occur within the book. An online index is much the same except that you supply hypertext links rather than page numbers.

McMurrey, David A. Illuminati Online (2004). Articles>Editing>Indexing>Technical Writing


Do You Like Jigsaw Puzzles?

I have been pondering technical editing processes. Most notably, as I play on my iPad putting together jigsaw puzzles made from my favorite vacation photos, I have pondered whether most technical editors like putting together jigsaw puzzles.

Corbin, Michelle. Corrigo (2012). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Writing


Do Your Magic!

An abstract of the article "Understanding the Value of Technical Editors," this snippet summarizes the benefits that a technical editor provides. It highlights the magic that editors do.

Crawley, Charles R. Corrigo (2010). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing


Editing Mathematics   (PDF)

Editing mathematics is like editing a foreign language, with its own conventions, symbols, and rules of grammar. Various typographic rules must be followed exactly since deviations from them change the meaning of the material. Like poetry, placement of the information on the page is important for the meaning. The editor often must be a cryptographer, decoding esoteric handwritten material.

Burgan, Murrie W. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Scientific Communication>Technical Editing>Mathematics


Editing Modular Documentation: Some Best Practices

Much has been said about the creation of modular documentation - from content management systems, to information architecture, to delivery forms, to the usability of modular content (content being easier to use, easier to understand, and easier to find), and so on. However, not much has been said about the editing of that content, and what the editor's role is in such an environment.

Corbin, Michelle and Yoel Strimling. WritersUA (2008). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Technical Editing


Editing Tables of Data

Tables should allow readers to easily and accurately: see what subject matter and variables are being described; find out absolute values; observe relationships between variables. When you edit a table, it is useful to assess just how well it achieves these ends. Readers will feel confident with your table if they can quickly navigate around and absorb the data.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1999). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing



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