Issue 62, 17 June 2002
Editor: Jean Hollis Weber
In this issue...
Procedures and instructions
Punctuation: Use of hyphens (again) and colons
Technical editors' responsibilities
The top five rules of editing
Automatic vacation messages can cause problems
Hypnotic writing for fun and profit
My books: Taming Microsoft Word 2000 and others
More sales, less work with AWeber
Double your sales and profits with Adminder
Steve Hudson firstname.lastname@example.org wrote to say that the example I used in "What's wrong with this procedure?" is, in fact, not a procedure but instructions. Here's what he says:
"A procedure tells the user who does what using what to what and when and where this is done. It does not have to contains hows - they are for instructions. The art to good P&P [policies and procedures] is minimising instructions and maximising procedures. My Procedural sub-heads look like this
Authorisation (usually, but not always, this is covered by the scope of the manual and can be omitted in these cases)
Records (usually Q systems demand a record of procedural use or the procedure generates some equivalent)
Related Documents "
I now recall a discussion on some list (TECHWR-L? HATT?) about this distinction, but I'm wondering if common usage (at least in the computer software industry) is to use the term "procedure" the way I did -- as a synonym for "instructions". I do think the distinction Steve has made is valuable, but perhaps more so for deciding what to put in which documents, rather than as a terminology distinction for readers.
Anyone care to comment further?
Two more people have written to me about hyphens. I've learned a lot from all who have commented, and I'm reminded of why I'm not as good at copyediting as I am at substantive editing. I thank those who took the time to write and explain why some hyphen usage is considered to be correct or incorrect.
I've put these and the earlier notes on a separate page so you can read them if you're interested, but they won't clutter up this newsletter for others. http://www.jeanweber.com/howto/hyphens.htm
You may also be interested in the recent discussion on the STC Technical Editors' list about the use of colons to introduce a vertical list. I learned a lot from that discussion too. If you're not already a member of STCTESIG-L, I encourage you to join. It's not a high traffic list, and you can read the archives and post messages online if you wish. To subscribe, go to the Web site at http://lists.stc.org/cgi-bin/lyris.pl?enter=stctesig-L
For several years I've been compiling a list of the things technical editors do. I'm looking at both what we do and the specifics of how we do it. Some roles are well-known, particularly in the publishing industry, but other roles are not well-defined.
The term "technical editor," for example, covers quite a range of roles and skills, from copy-editing print materials to verifying technical content to a disguised form of usability testing, to -- well, you tell me.
As part of this exercise I've collected some advertisements for technical editors in the computer software industry. http://www.jeanweber.com/about/responsi.htm
These examples show some of the types of work, and the skills and knowledge required, which are well beyond the "corrects grammar and spelling" image that so many potential employers (and writers and other co-workers) often have.
If you have a job ad, duty statement, or summary of your role that you'd be willing to share, please send it to me to add to my collection. I won't use your name or the name of your company.
Some other related information is included in Chapter 1 of my book, Editing Online Help. Excerpts from that chapter are here: http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews26.htm and http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews27.htm
The Editors' Association of Canada has a page, "Professional Editorial Standards," that describes the skill sets of various editing levels. http://www.editors.ca/pubs/pes.htm. These are general editing roles, not specialist technical editing roles, however.
The site also sells a two-volume publication called "Meeting Editorial Standards" (http://www.editors.ca/pubs/mes.htm). The books contain editing exercises and solutions. I haven't seen them, so I can't comment on their relevance.
Automatic vacation messages, which are established by adjusting a setting in your email program to send an automatic response to email while you are on leave, can cause big problems if you are subscribed to an email list. Vacation messages, set incorrectly, can cause an "email loop" on the list. This means that your vacation mail program will send repeat messages to the list, because it responds to every message it receives, including the message it just sent to the list which has now come back from the list server. If you are intending to use a vacation message, please make sure that it is set as follows:
- Make sure that it is not set to quote the original incoming message in the vacation response. Quoting can cause a loop.
- The vacation program should be set to "reply-to-sender" rather than "reply-to-all". This should result in the vacation message going to the person who posted to the list, not to the list address. But there's a catch -- some email lists themselves are set to "reply-to-all."
- To be safe, change all your list settings to "nomail" or "web only" or the equivalent, so you don't receive messages from the lists. This is a good idea anyway, to prevent your mail box filling up with list traffic.
Of course, if you can't post to a list, it won't be affected by your vacation message, so you don't need to change settings on send-only lists like this newsletter -- unless, of course, you don't want to receive copies while you're away.
You, or the company you work for, are trying to sell something - a service, a product, or information. You, or your company, want a response from other people: that is, you want them to do something.
As part of the selling process, you - or someone in your company - will probably be writing some advertising copy or other materials intended to entice other people into doing whatever it is you want them to do: hire you, buy a product or service, vote for a particular candidate, join a group.
Joe Vitale and Larry Dotson's ebook, Hypnotic Writer's Swipe File, can help you write ad copy that sells! Here's an extract from the book: http://www.jeanweber.com/business/hypnotic.htm
Automated e-mail follow-up from AWeber. Includes an email list, autoresponders, ad tracking, and real-time statistics. I use this system to send out copies of this newsletter. Click here to find out more.
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