Re: Editing, Smediting

Subject: Re: Editing, Smediting
From: Stephen Forrest <forrest -at- SMTP -dot- SHIMADZU -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 18 Apr 1997 14:55:16 EST

> I am a TERRIBLE copy editor. And,
> since I am the only tech writer for a small firm, I am expected to
> do quite a bit of this. What do I do? I realize I am not great at it
> and try to compensate by being aware of it. I hand my documents to
> anyone in the company who will read it and give me feedback. If I
> think about it and have the time, I look through each doc looking at
> a specific problem (widows/orphans, graphic placement and titles,
> cross-refs, etc.).

I recommend a methodical, multi-step process. 1) Pick a time when
commotion and interruptions will be at a minimum, and take breaks
whenever your attention is wandering. 2) For layout, go backwards
through the document, looking at each page as a whole, without
focusing on any specific line. 3) For spelling and grammar, read it
backwards, one sentence at a time. 4) For style, usage, flow, and
readability, wait at least 24 hours between readings. A week is even
better. 5) Use spell-check last.

> I scanned a document and only
> spell-checked it (I didn't read it). It was preproduction so I did
> not worry about it. Well, everywere the doc had said "parity" the
> OCR software had replaced it with "panty". We had a doc full of
> "panty checks". I think the engineer who worked on it actually
> appreciated it quite a bit.

Good one. It lightened my day, too.

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