Behind every great technical writer is a great technical editor. Or at least there would be in an ideal world. And, even more importantly, there’d be a technical editor behind every non-writer who produces documentation.
We are tech support for the writers—whoever they may be. And we are the users’ final advocates before they encounter the documentation.
But how do we decide what support to give? What do we base our decisions on? How do we convey it to the writers, and how do we convey it in a way that doesn’t make them cringe?
In this 6-week course, you will learn:
- What technical editors are and why we’re needed.
- The “hard skills” and “soft skills” that technical editors should possess.
- How to identify passive voice and bloated sentences, as well as how to fix them.
- What style guides are and how we use them, as well as how we might use other resources.
- How to mark up text using proofreader marks.
- What some popular editing environments are, and the basics of how to use them.
- What levels of editing are and how to identify the scope of work.
The intended audience for this course is primarily technical editors who are new to the field and students who are considering entering the field. Seasoned technical editors who need a refresher or who never formally studied this topic may also benefit from this course.
In this introductory session, we’ll:
- Discuss the benefits of having a technical editor.
- Explore the role of technical editors in today’s market.
- Identify the “hard skills” that companies expect technical editors to possess.
Because technical editors don’t work in a bubble, their skills must go beyond their technical competencies.
In this session, we’ll examine the “soft skills” that help technical editors interact effectively with their colleagues.
Why use 500 words when fewer will do? Because our teachers said so.
Many of us grew up with writing assignments that demanded specific word counts. To make matters worse, we were also trained to use passive voice.
But passive voice and excess wording often hinder comprehension. And because we encounter writers who still write this way—even when the style guide recommends otherwise—we must learn to recognize it.
In this session, we’ll learn to:
- Identify passive voice and convert it to active voice.
- Recognize bloated sentences and eliminate the fat.
Technical editors follow industry-wide and company-specific conventions. In this session, we’ll:
- Identify some standard style guides.
- Discuss departmental style guides.
- Identify other resources.
In this session, we’ll:
- Learn about proofreader marks.
- Explore Track Changes in Microsoft Word.
- Explore PDF markup in Adobe Acrobat.
- Identify some popular editing software.
- Discuss collaborative writing environments.
Various project stages, deadlines, and writers’ experience levels require different attention from the technical editor.
In this session, we’ll:
- Examine conventional levels of editing.
- Introduce a simple tool that can help identify the scope of work in an editing cycle.
Li-At Rathbun has over 20 years of technical communication experience (yes, since kindergarten). For the last ten of those years, she’s worked primarily as the technical editor in a Docs department that ballooned from 15 writers to 26.
Li-At has continuously served in various STC leadership positions since her very first meeting. She’s currently the Technical Editing SIG co-manager, Santa Barbara chapter president, and Surveys Lead for the CAC (Community Affairs Committee).
Li-At presented at the STC Technical Editing Virtual Conference, Summit 2015 Leadership Day, Spectrum 2016, Summit 2016, and Summit 2017.