Letters from the editor (TCUK12)


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Presentation at Technical Communication UK Conference (TCUK)

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  • Different contexts: Journalism; trade; Academic; technical
  • Journalism: verify sources, check references, confirm quotes Academic: list references, avoid plagiarismTechnical: approval by subject matter expertSign-off (audit trail)
  • Letters from the editor (TCUK12)

    1. 1. Letters from the EditorDavid FarbeyTechnical Communication UKNewcastle, UK4th October 2012
    2. 2. Agenda• Scope of technical editing• Advice for editors• Survey responses• Letters from the editor• Any questions?
    3. 3. Agenda• Quiz!• Scope of technical editing• Advice for editors• Survey responses• Letters from the editor• Quiz Answers!• Any questions?
    4. 4. Quiz!• The next slide shows an editor from a TV drama. Can you name: ▫ The actor? ▫ The character? ▫ The TV show in which the character first appeared?• Answers at the end of the presentation!
    5. 5. Trust me I’m an Editor
    6. 6. Relationships Organisation Audience Editor Content Writers
    7. 7. The Levels of EditRobert Van Buren and Mary Fran Buehler. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, 1980 http://www.technical-expressions.com/learn2edit/levels-of- edit/levels_of_edit.pdf
    8. 8. Nine types of edit1. Coordination2. Policy3. Integrity4. Screening5. Copy Clarification6. Format7. Mechanical Style8. Language9. Substantive Van Buren and Buehler
    9. 9. General classes of edit• Policy edit (includes Coordination and Policy)• Copy edit (includes Integrity, Screening, Copy Clarification, Format, and Mechanical Style)• Developmental editing (includes Language and Substantive)
    10. 10. An ideal workflow1. Author and Editor plan work (Policy)2. Author develops text3. SME reviews4. Author corrects5. Editor reviews (Developmental)6. Author corrects7. Proofreader copy-edits8. Organisation publishes
    11. 11. Editing is not fact-checking Editors verify external facts  Authors and SMEs confirm accuracy 
    12. 12. Editing is not evaluation Grading the content  Preparing the content for publication 
    13. 13. Mentoring, not Managing Command and control  Support and growth 
    14. 14. Building the Style Guide Take decisions once  Searchable collective memory 
    15. 15. Accuracy, Clarity, Consistency Text conforms with principles  Text is free of mechanical errors 
    16. 16. What about structured authoring? Written in chunks, so edit in chunks  Each chunk conforms to type 
    17. 17. What about Agile development? Consider when the doc item is  shippable Consider when the whole doc is  shippable
    18. 18. Having the last word Ongoing skirmishes with other managers  Clear organistional policy 
    19. 19. Technical Editing SurveySeptember 2012 79 responses in 3 days indicative, not representative
    20. 20. Is your work routinely reviewed by asubject matter expert?• 69 responses• No my work is not routinely reviewed – 5.8% (n=4)• Sometimes my work is reviewed but not routinely – 15.9% (n=11)• Yes my work is routinely reviewed – 73.9% (n=51)
    21. 21. Is the work that you produce routinelyedited by another person?• 68 responses• Yes my work is routinely edited – 17.6% (n=12)• Sometimes my work is edited but not routinely – 35.3% (n=24)• No my work is not routinely edited – 41.2% (n=28)
    22. 22. Comments from the survey• Do you think that technical editing improves the quality of your work?• Do you think that technical editing makes your job easier?• If you are a writer, how would you describe your relationship with your editor? If you are an editor, how would you describe your relationship with your writers?
    23. 23. Comments on quality of work• “Undoubtedly. More importantly, a technical edit can greatly improve the cohesiveness and consistency of bodies of work (e.g. documentation sets) that are produced by multiple writers.”• “Yes. Whenever I persuade someone to look critically at my work I get feedback that helps me improve the quality of that document. The feedback is often applicable to other documents, so the overall quality can be improved.”
    24. 24. Comments on quality of work (2)• “When Ive worked with a technical editor in the past, it has definitely improved the quality of my work. I learned most of what I know about technical writing from the editors.”• “Yes, its vital both to ensure the quality of my output and consistency across the company.”
    25. 25. Comments on ease of work• “Not necessarily. Dealing with the editors comments can take quite some time.”• “Doesnt necessarily makes it easier - but does ensure a very high standard of content/quality.”• “Yes, in that it provides an alternative view. No, in that it often delays the work beyond the required deadline.”
    26. 26. Comments on ease of work(2)• “Two of the biggest challenges in my role are knowing what the audience needs and knowing whether my work is as clear and useful as I intend. An editor could help significantly with the second and at least give a second perspective on the first.”• “Yes, if the editor is good.”
    27. 27. Comments on relationships• “Good -- so long as the editor is consistent from one edit to the next, and keeps writers appraised of changes to the standard style guide/layout/content guidelines.”• “Very good. They respect my ability to describe subject matter clearly and I respect their in- depth knowledge of the subjects.”
    28. 28. Comments on relationships (2)• “Earlier in my career as a writer, I very much valued the input and feedback given by editors. it certainly helped me grow and develop. However, editors are a dying breed now.”• “Its one of mutual respect - and it works best when the editor is empathetic: understanding what the writer is going through.”
    29. 29. Comments on relationships (3)• “I have had good, open relationships with my editors over the years, although it was a learning curve to get there and understand my role as writer being edited. It helps that I want to learn and improve.”• “I have a great relationship with our editor. He asks good questions, makes comments, generally helps me improve the document, and accepts comments on his comments when I think hes mistaken.”
    30. 30. Dear Organisation• Please give us clear guidelines on editorial policy.• Please help us reach out to our audience.• Please give us the professional authority to do our jobs.• Please employ us!
    31. 31. Dear Audience• Please let us know what you do.• Please tell us how we can help you.• Please give us your feedback.• (We need your feedback!)• (No, really, we do!)
    32. 32. Dear Writer• Your editor is your friend.• (Even if your editor is also your manager.)• If there’s a style guide please use it.• (If there isn’t a style guide please remind us to create one.)• If you have any questions, please ask.• We’re only human so we can make mistakes too.• (No, really we are only human. Honest.)
    33. 33. Quiz Answers• The actor is Ed Asner• The character is Lou Grant• Lou Grant first appeared in the sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The drama series Lou Grant was a spin-off.
    34. 34. Any questions?• David Farbey• @dfarb• david@farbey.co.uk• www.marginalnotes.co.uk