I’m that second pair of eyes you need before you publish that document, send that email, or post that article.
Typos and mediocre writing reflect poorly on you and your organization. A professional editor can help you avoid embarrassment or worse. Errors in safety procedures can lead to serious injury, death, and lawsuits. One misplaced comma can cost millions.
I usually follow the Chicago Manual of Style, but can follow your style guide if you prefer.
LEVELS OF EDIT
Technical editing is much more than checking for misspelled words and proper comma use. It is ultimately quality control. Technical editing considers a document’s intended use, organization, design, and style, along with an analysis of the content. While rules-based copy-editing is included, a substantive edit is designed to make the document not only correct, but also functional for the intended audience.
(catches the most obvious and basic errors)
- Read the document aloud word-for-word, an exercise that catches more mistakes than reading silently
- Edit at the sentence level for grammar, punctuation, spelling, and consistent use of formatting styles
- Check front matter for appropriate information
(basic edit plus a consistency and accuracy check)
- Edit the document at the paragraph level for tense consistency, coherence, and transitions
- Check language and usage for clarity, consistency, and accuracy, passive vs. active voice, run-on sentences, wordiness, gender-specific language, awkward constructions, and vague language
- Check document integrity to ensure references to figures and tables, headers, footers, screen captures, and tables of contents are accurate, complete, and consistent
- Ensure all steps are numbered sequentially
- Insert comments or questions regarding items such as misused words, inappropriate content or tone, missing cross-references, major organizational problems, and awkward or confusing passages
(intermediate edit plus a complete analysis of the document and a rewrite of portions, if needed, while maintaining voice)
- Review and comment on the document’s logical organization
- Check software against instructions to ensure instructions are clear and complete (for software documentation or other instructions)
- Ensure accuracy and appropriateness of screen captures
- Refine language and tighten verbiage, making suggestions to improve clarity and quality
- Determine if the document is appropriate for the target audience and is written at the correct readability level (Flesch-Kincaid)
- Ensure document-wide adherence to formatting and style guide
- Make sure the index is complete, consistent, and accurate
- Check for omitted topics and redundancy (for software documentation or other procedures)
- Test all hyperlinks to make sure they are not broken and that they link to the intended target
Proofreading is also a detailed task, but a simpler one, concentrating more on comparing the last draft of a document to a revised version to ensure all marked changes are made, or in the case of retyping a document, ensuring that the new document matches the original.