Re: Editing, Smediting

Subject: Re: Editing, Smediting
From: Penny Staples <pstaples -at- AIRWIRE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 1997 10:40:53 -0500

Hi Lisa,

Don't let the details scare you. I sympathize with your situation.
Picking up my own inconsistencies, typos and careless errors
isn't something I do intuitively.

Editing your own work is never an ideal situation, but if you're the
only writer on staff (like me) you have to do it, and do it well,
or face sending stuff out with embarrassing mistakes.

For big manuals I make a checklist of the kinds of errors that
I tend to miss. Then I go through the manual, chapter by chapter,
checking specifically for those things. For example, I go through
once *just checking capitalization in my headings*. Then I go
through again, checking grammar. Then punctuation. Then
consistency of wording, etc.

It's tedious, mind-numbingly dull, and very slow going at first. I find
that I have to mix it in with other tasks or I fall asleep. But I've found
that you CAN train yourself to see the details. Over the last three
years or so I've gotten much faster and better at catching my own

I still don't catch all of my mistakes (I don't know whether you can,
in your own writing), but at least I get the manual to a point where
I know that there are no big, embarrassing mistakes. At that point
I turn it over to our SMEs for their final review. They usually find
any remaining glitches.

The "A" answer, of course, is to have another writer proofread your
stuff. It's always easier to spot someone else's errors than your own.
It's also good to leave the document alone for a few days, if you have
the luxury of time. Then you can go back and read it more objectively.

Best of luck,

Penny Staples

> I am having an awful experience coming face to face with the fact that I
> editing disabled. Design, Format, Conception - I'm your writer! Have me
> read what I wrote for missed words, inconsistencies, and the grammatical
> errors - No way.
> Here's the situation - huge reference manual (350 pages - personal high
> number count) - lot's o' fields to doc - lot's of redundancy built into
> doc so each chapter/section functions independently - Writer who doesn't
> find missed words, some missed field definitions, titles don't match
> paragraph references, etc. Conceptually, it covers a lot of ground. In
> the details, you've got problems.

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
Search the archives at or search and
browse the archives at

Previous by Author: Re: Managing Help Files
Next by Author: Re: Doc for multiple interfaces
Previous by Thread: Re: Editing, Smediting
Next by Thread: Re: Editing, Smediting

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads