In 2016, the STC Technical Editing SIG held a Watercooler Chat entitled, Technical Editors Wear Many Hats. We discussed the evolving role of an editor and various roles technical editors play. Some common responsibilities:
- peer reviewer
- video creator
Most days, I juggle several editorial roles. Here are my three favorites.
1. Peer Reviewer
Peer reviews–or feedback–isn’t formal editing. I critique stories, blog posts, articles, chapters, or online course material. Sometimes, it’s an early draft and my colleague wants another read to help her organize the piece. Other times a fellow writer emails the story for me for one last review, to make sure the piece flows.
The side benefit? I read material before it’s published!
It’s all in the details! A client sends me a draft article or a link to their website. The task? Proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation matter.
One client asked me to proof their initial blog posts. I received the link to the newly-launched website and began reading. One post had this bold title: Heart Attach [sic]. I emailed a screenshot to the client before adding this error to my list. “Yikes! I proofread that title many times! It’s supposed to be ‘Heart Attack’.” Every writer needs a proofreader!
We can’t trust the automated spell checkers to pick up all our errors. ‘Attach’ is a good word but not the right word for this context!
3. UX (User Experience) Editor
I hadn’t thought of UX testing as editing. In several cases, I test as a consumer and provide text edits.
Case 1: Missing Login/Logout Buttons
Recently, I checked on one educational institution’s website. Where’s the login button? I wondered. I emailed their tech support. Tech Support responded that there’s no login button and provided the login steps. After I click around, I wanted to logout. No logout button or link, and when I closed the browser and reopened, I was still logged in. Again, I contacted Tech Support; they sent me the logout link.
My feedback to the institution? It was difficult to login and logout; please add buttons!
Case 2: Missing Donate Button and Unsecured Website
A non-profit client requested that I click through their site and try some features. We agreed that I would try and donate, to test the automated responses. On the main page, there was no Donate button. Why make a potential donor hunt through the site to give money? When I did find the donation page, I noticed that the website address wasn’t secure (not https). Consumers don’t want to provide PII (Personally Identifiable Information) on an unsecured website.
My suggested edits? Secure the donation page. Add Donate buttons on all pages.
Sherri Leah Henkin is a Senior Member of STC. Her STC-related articles have appeared in NEO STC’s newsletter and Intercom. In addition to tech writing and editing, Sherri has published creative non-fiction pieces in several international magazines. Sherri offers content creation and editing services through www.contentclarified.com.