Lessons Learned in 2012 – No. 2: Editing isn’t a quick proofread

28 Dec

Have you ever been asked by your coworker if you have a spare 5 minutes to edit their document? I’m someone who always likes to say yes to this question. A second set of eyes can really help to make the final product much better.

However, the word “edit” tends to mean different things to different people. One thing I’ve learned this year is that where I work the definition of “to edit” doesn’t mean to quickly proofread. Instead, when I start to edit a document I follow the steps outlined in Writing Revisable Manuals. See http://www.techcommunicators.com/emanuals/wrm/chap02/02-08_editing.htm

For the first draft of a document, I look for the following:

• Completeness and accuracy
• Appropriate organization
• Logic and coherence
• General writing style
• General conformance with the prior documentation, style guide, and style sheet

Typically, I read each section of a document at least twice. Once to get familiar with the content, and a second time to identify and mark errors.

For later drafts, I focus on:

• Style and grammar
• Spelling
• Punctuation
• Usage
• Formatting
• Typographics

Only at this point is the editing process complete.

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