A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Technical Editors Eyrie

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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


Audience and Document Analysis

Before you begin editing a document, try to find out as much as you can about the audience for the document and purpose of the document.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2001). Articles>Writing>Audience Analysis>Rhetoric


Beyond Copy-Editing: The Editor-Writer Relationship

Editing is often narrowly defined as making corrections after a document is written. This approach typically relegates the editor to a low-status role within the organisation.

Durham, Marsha. Technical Editors Eyrie (1991). Articles>Editing>Collaboration


Choosing and Using Help Topics

This paper describes some common types of help topic and when to use each. Different applications require different mixes of help topics. Choose the topic types that are appropriate for the application you are documenting.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1999). Articles>Documentation>Online>Help


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


Deciding What Needs to be Done

Before you begin editing a document, you need to analyse it and plan what needs to be done. The exception is when your job is strictly limited (by your supervisor or the client) to correcting only the glaring errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar (a 'light edit'). There is no point to attempting a more substantive edit if doing so will only get you into trouble (or if the client won't pay you for the time you spend).

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2001). Articles>Editing>Project Management


Discussion Groups, Newsletters, and Related Websites

A collection of links to online technical editors' communities.

Technical Editors Eyrie. Resources>Directories>Online


Editing for Gender Neutrality

How to be politically correct without mangling the English language. The goal is that the reader should not notice the writing.

Weber, Jean Hollis. Technical Editors Eyrie (1998). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Gender


Editing Macros for Word and WordPerfect

Useful resources on a variety of relevant topics, including a collection of macros for Microsoft Word and links to a selection of Word resources.

Technical Editors Eyrie. Articles>Word Processing>Software


Editing Reports and Proposals

Businesses, non-profit organizations, government departments, and other groups produce a lot of proposals and reports. This article summarizes some features of reports and proposals that are not the same as books, news items, manuals, magazine articles, memos and many other documents.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2001). Articles>Editing>Proposals>Reports


Editing Single-Sourced Projects

This article does not address the (important) questions of when a single-sourcing methodology is a good solution to an information delivery problem ('good' here meaning saving time and money while maintaining or improving the quality of the resulting deliverables). Instead, I'm looking only at the editor's involvement in the project.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Editing>Single Sourcing


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


Electronically Indicating Approvals or Rejections of Editorial Changes

This technique (involving two macros) works in Word97, but not in Word6 or 7/95. The requirement is to indicate (for audit purposes) whether an editorial change was accepted or rejected by the author or other authority.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Editing>Software>Microsoft Word


An Example of Substantive Editing

Some years ago I edited a quarterly magazine for the users of a large Australian computing network. This example (from 1985) is fairly typical of the technical articles I received from department managers. I include here the unedited text and my revised version.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2001). Articles>Editing>Case Studies


Gender-Neutral Technical Writing

In recurring discussions on the TECHWR-L list, many technical writers argue that they write in 'correct English' and are not going to change their style just to suit the political-correctness police. 'I won't use 'they' as a singular pronoun because it's not grammatically correct' and 'Using contrived phrases such as 's/he' is just too awkward' are arguments I've heard frequently in the debate. But using 'incorrect English' or contrived phrases is neither the goal nor the outcome of gender-neutral writing.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Gender


Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling

The Web abounds with sites teaching grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Not surprisingly, most of these sites are provided by educational institutions, teachers, or business-writing consultants, presumably to make up for the lack of grammar teaching in so many school systems for the past several decades. Some are tutorials (masquerading as style guides) for technical communicators. Here are a few sites that I have found useful or that other people have recommended to me.

Weber, Jean Hollis. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Style Guides>Writing


Hints for Developing a Table of Contents

Planning a project before beginning the detailed work is one of the vital steps to success in technical communication. Developing a table of contents is one of the steps in the planning process of a document.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Editing


Planning an Electronic Performance Support System Project

Electronic performance support systems are software programs that directly support a worker's ability to perform tasks. Such systems go beyond passive task-oriented online help. To be effective, EPS systems should be closely interlocked with the supported product's user interface and its online help. This paper outlines some of the planning considerations and steps involved in an EPSS project, and some of the problems and complications that arose during a specific project.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Project Management>EPSS


Planning an Online Help Project

This paper outlines some general principles you need to consider when planning an online help project and creating WinHelp files.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1999). Articles>Documentation>Online>Help


Resources for Editors and Writers of Websites

This 'starter list' was originally compiled for a presentation on editing websites given at the Australian Society for Technical Communication (ASTC) annual conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia on 30 October 1998. Several of the sites listed have quite extensive lists of links to further information

Technical Editors Eyrie. Resources>Web Design>Writing


The Role of the Editor in the Technical 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.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Editing>Collaboration>Technical Writing


Stressing What is Important in a Sentence

In addition to expunging the usual collection of wordy phrases from documents, editors commonly attempt to tighten up writing to make it more direct, clear, and concise. For example, when editing business and technical material, I frequently change sentences containing 'it is,' 'there is,' and 'there are.' Writers often ask me 'what was wrong with that sentence?' I reply that although the sentence wasn't wrong grammatically, such phrases distract the reader from the important part of the message.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Writing>Grammar


The Technical Editors' Eyrie

The newsletter is intended for editors who are, or need to be, working electronically. Much of the material will be relevant to electronic editors in any field. Some of the material will be most relevant to editors in technical fields such as computing and engineering.

Weber, Jean Hollis. Technical Editors Eyrie. Journals>Editing>Regional>Australia


Terminology and Spelling for Web-Related Concepts

Generally speaking, 'Web' as a short form of 'World Wide Web' is capitalized, with one exception (webmaster). However, your company style may prefer the lower-case version.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2002). Articles>Writing>Style Guides


"Use Cases" and "User Scenarios" Explained

This file contains the responses I received to a message I sent on January 21, 2000 to the TECHWR-L and WINHLP-L discussion lists. It was posted on the Techwhirl website for awhile but was removed during a reorganisation of the site. Other people's comments are included with their permission.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (2000). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods



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