Technical Editing: Schedule for your_name

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Course Description

This course, Technical Editing enables you to start or continue a career as an editor—either within a publishing organization or in a freelance capacity—or as a effective, supportive peer reviewer. You will develop or continue developing a sharp eye for copyediting problems (using track-change functions in software); practice substantive (comprehensive) editing; develop portfolio-quality editorial samples; and learn how to create style sheets and style guides.

The course begins with an in-depth review of grammar, usage, and punctuation rules. It features weekly edits on a variety of topics such as computer procedures, international culture, and do-it-yourself tasks. You learn your way around important editor reference tools such as Chicago Manual of Style, Garner's Modern American Usage, and the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications.

Choose any of the following units that meet your professional needs.

Note: Links have been omitted from this page.

Photos by Bill Hutchinson

Course Start-up; Technical Editing Overview

In this unit, get an overview of this course, then review or learn about the role of the technical editor—both the in-house type editor and the freelance editor. You see what editors attempt to accomplish when editing documents, how they use the standard reference books, and what processes they follow to edit writers' documents.

Go to the course overview unit. Remember to return here for the editing overview.

Go to the editing overview unit.

Due date: unit1_date

Grammar, Usage, Punctuation Review

Use the exercises in this unit to review the common errors that all editors must recognize and correct.

Go to the bootcamp exercises unit.

Due date: unit2_date

Traditional Hardcopy Markup

Now that you have a good idea, or have had a review, of the editor's function and work, look at the traditional work of the editor—hardcopy markup. Now that we are fully engaged in the electronic information age, it would seem that traditional hardcopy markup—red pens or pencils on actual physical paper—would be obsolete. It is not. If you seek technical editing work—full- or part-time—or technical-writer work that involves peer reviewing—you are likely to be given an editing test in which you must markup hardcopy. If you can perform the traditional markup, you are much more likely to be hired or to advance more rapidly.

Go to the traditional hardcopy markup unit.

Due date: unit3_date

Track-Change Editing

There are serious reasons for knowing the basics of hardcopy markup, as covered in the previous unit. However, most contemporary editing and reviewing is done using track-change functions, which are available in most mainstream software. Understanding how to use track-change functions is vital to almost any office-based employment or profession. You'll learn essential functions such as how to turn track changes on, delete or insert text, query authors using comments, accept or reject editorial changes.

Go to the tracking changes unit.

Due date: unit4_date

Type Code Markup

Type code markup refers to the codes that tell type setters whether a segment of text should be a heading 1, regular paragraph, bullet-list item, and so on. In earlier times, the type setter would then enter margins, fonts, color, and other settings for each text segment according to the specific code. In contemporary publishing, software applies the settings according to the type codes. Typically, editors enter these codes, a skill that is essential for editors to possess. In this unit, you'll practice the electronic version of this skill.

Go to the type codes unit.

Due date: unit5_date

Copyediting—Classic Usage

Now that you've had an introduction to the tools that editors use, as covered in the preceding two units, it's time to start practicing the work of an editor. When people think about what editors do, they usually think that editors "check grammar." That's only partly true: among the things they scrutinize in that area, one of the top concerns is "usage." Usage is how society has decided to make certain things in our language correct and other things incorrect, even though those decisions are arbitrary. Grammar, on the other hand, is like the physics of alanguage; even the illiterate know and use grammar rules instinctively. This unit provides instruction and practice on the classic usage problems.

Go to the copyediting usage unit.

Due date: unit6_date


Not only do editors watch for a correct usage problems, as covered in the previous unit, they also watch for punctuation problems. Punctuation—primarily commas, semicolons, colons, apostrophe—is often troubling for writers, who are struggling with understanding and explaining a topic. Punctuation can also be troubling because of the different standards that exist. You as an editor can work with writers to systematically apply established punctuation rules to documents in a logical, consistent, efficient way.

Go to the editing punctuation unit.

Due date: unit7_date

Substantive Editing—Page Design

While editors are certainly valued for their attention to the classic usage and punctuation errors, covered in previous units, their greatest value lies in what is often called "substantive" editing, which is the focus of this and several other units in this course. That means paying attention to the content, coherence, organization, logic, and audience appropriateness of a document. Substantive editing also means paying attention to the design and format of documents and the economy and clarity of the language, which is the focus of this unit.

Go to the editing page design unit.

Due date: unit8_date

Style Sheets

If you edit for usage and punctuation problems, as covered in the previous units, it is still possible you can be inconsistent. Consistency is something that editors must focus on—whether it's dialog or dialogue, floppy disk or diskette, italics or regular roman. Editors must also make "editorial calls" when the standards contradict each other or when no standards exist. To make these "calls," editors must know how to search for trends in the same company's publications, in industry publications, and in similar publications on the Internet. The results of their research are captured in a style sheet for an individual document. You as an editor are critical for this function because writers are not adept at such research nor have the scope or time to make such calls.

Go to the stylesheets unit.

Due date: unit9_date

Substantive Editing—Document-Level Problems

Even more so that usage, punctuation, and consistency, covered in the previous units, one of the most important contributions that editors bring to the document-development process is their focus on the content of a document, its suitability for the target audience, its coherence (how the document "flows"), its organization, and its support and logic. Writers often work too closely to documents such that they have a hard time thinking about their documents from these high-level perspectives. That's where you as a good editor come in!

Go to the editing for document-level problems unit.

Due date: unit10_date

Substantive Editing—Sentence-Style Problems

Matters of usage, punctuation, and consistency, covered in preceding units, are typicallly either correct or incorrect. However, editing for sentence style problems is a gray area, not nearly as well-defined as, for example, usage problems. Just about any writer can reduce a rough draft by as much as 20 percent, cutting unnecessary words, emphasizing ideas, and making them clearer. But editors are way better at this than writers! Often known as "wordsmithing," this kind of editing is not always welcome or even expected by all writers or by the established information-development process. Even if editors cannot revise these sentence-style problems in writers' documents, they must be able to explain them to writers.

Go to the editing sentence style unit.

Due date: unit11_date

Editing Research

In this context, "research" means searching for answers to editing issues such as spelling (catalog or catalogue?), usage (split infinitives?), punctuation (Harvard comma?), and other such. Your first steps are to go to standard reference works such as Merriam-Webster's Dictionary New Edition (c) 2016, Chicago Manual of Style, Garner's Modern American Usage, and the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. But as language changes, these reference work will not have the answers for new issues. That's when you cruise the Internet, look for trends.

Go to the edit research unit.

Due date: unit12_date

Editing for Internationalization & Localization

In technical communication, internationalization (i18n) is the process of designing information so that it can be adapted to various languages and regions without difficulty. Localization (i10n) is the process of adapting internationalized information for a specific region or language by translating text and adding locale-specific components. Localization (which is potentially performed multiple times, for different locales) uses the infrastructure or flexibility provided by internationalization (which is ideally performed only once, or as an integral part of ongoing development). Globalization, not addressed in this unit, is shown as i11n.

Go to the editing for internationalization & localization unit.

Due date: unit13_date

Substantive Editing—Online Information Accessibility

Internet accessibility uncovers an entirely different form editing than that of preceding units. As the Internet soared in worldwide popularity in the 1990s, it soon became apparent that a significant portion of society was prevented from taking advantage of the Internet in a number of ways. And thus, legislation was enacted in the 1990s to require accessibility accommodations for most online documents produced by or for governments worldwide. Businesses too realized that they had not just an ethical but also a commercial interest in making their online materials accessible. It is often you the editor who is the key individual who advises writers on making their online documents accessible.

Go to the editing for accessibility unit.

Due date: unit14_date

Edit Summaries & Writer Interaction

Anyone who writes something can be very defensive even hardheaded about it. Editors must know how to explain document problems, show corrections, and suggest revisions in a tactful, supportive manner. Editors must avoid attributing document problems to writers' ignorance, indifference, or lack of education. In this course, you've practice communicating with writers all along through comments and suggestions in document margins. This unit provides a wrap-up of those strategies.

Go to the edit summary unit.

Due date: unit15_date

Style Guides

The style guide is one way that you as a member of an information-development team can become indispensable to that team and to an organization as a whole. A well-designed style guide can enable writers and other team members to make consistent document decisions confidently and efficiently. The style guide is a wrap-up of this course; it is likely to touch on many of the units you have covered in the course previously.

Go to the style guides unit.

Due date: unit16_date

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