Editing Process

Process of Technical Editing – Ch. 2 of Technical Editing in the 21st Century

Audience Analysis

Step One: Determine the Purpose of the Document

Step Two: Determine the Intended Audience

Step Three: Determine the Characteristics of Each Audience Type

  • Background – how much does this audience know? is basic background needed?
  • Motivation – is this audience interested in this subject area? what expectations do they have of the document? how will they want to use the document? what can the document contain to address these issues?
  • Demographics – what is the audience’s relative age, gender, lifestyle, education, disposable income, or political preference?

Technical Editors as Diplomats

Questions to Ask before Editing

  • Is the document informative? persuasive? descriptive?
  • What type of expertise does the reader have?
  • Will my audience already have a position?
  • How much background information do the readers already have?
  • What information will be new to them?
  • Are there any terms or procedures that may be difficult or require special graphics?
  • Is the main point clearly established within the text?

Questions to Ask during Editing

  • Do I need to add or omit information such as key steps or definitions for specific terms?
  • Is the information that I provide too technical or difficult for this audience; is the vocab appropriate?
  • Has the intended purpose been clearly established early so there is no confusion?
  • Are there sufficient examples, facts, statistics, data, graphics, and other forms of evidence to support the document’s claims?
  • Is the information organized logically?
  • Do the body paragraphs have topic sentences?
  • Do the topic sentences reinforce the main idea of the document?
  • Is coherency achieved through the use of transitions and repetition of key words?
  • Are the sentences varied and of appropriate lengths?
  • Does the writing seem wordy and overdone?
  • Is there a good balance of graphics and illustrations?
  • Does the document use sufficient headings to break up dense paragraphs?

Questions to Ask after Editing

  • If the document has a wife variability in audience, have you made the necessary adjustment to provide supplemental information for those who may need it?
  • After letting the document sit aside, does its readability still seem appropriate to the intended audience?
  • Are the findings summarized?
  • Does the document need an introductory abstract?
  • Does the research exist within a context of related research, and is that context clear?
  • Does the overall appearance of the document seem appealing?

Language of Editing: Strategies for Feedback

  1. Paired Patterns: Praise-Criticism Pattern or Criticism-Suggestion/Solution Pattern
  2. Hedges: indefinite quantifiers such as occasionally, often, a little, sometimes, perhaps, etc
  3. Bald-on-Record: directives to writers such as “insert this table here,” can be paired with a downgrader if needed (all right? don’t you agree?)
  4. Locution-Derivable: modal verbs that express the writer’s obligation, such as must, should, ought, will
  5. Interrogative Syntax: ask a question

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