What Does a Technical Editor Do

Writing and editing are two different kettles of fish. Responsible for the creative output and content, writers produce draft copies of a manuscript, book, or journal article, while editors then take on the task of checking and overseeing the quality of the said draft. Hence, an experienced technical editor assesses a writer’s final draft to prepare a clean, clear, and grammatically accurate copy, which is then either sent to a publisher or directly to print. The technical editor is involved in the entire project¾from the initial planning stage until the submission stage.

But what does a technical editor do, what exactly is technical editing, and how does it differ from standard editing? Well, in a nutshell, technical editors are considered experts in communication and language. As a samurai masters the art of stealth and swordsmanship, a technical editor is an expert in grammatical knowledge and the art of preparing clear and comprehensible copy.

Whether preparing a manuscript, novel, article, or thesis, technical editors must know how to appeal to their designated target audience by crafting their language to suit several criteria, which we will explain further in the following section. When it comes to technical editing, the editing process goes much further than a simple grammar and spellcheck since many other factors must be considered, such as whether the document reflects a company’s house style or a journal or university’s submission guidelines. A technical edit thus assesses the finer details of an author’s writing while also providing functional cuts and corrections to improve the overall quality.

What Are The Main Aspects Of Technical Editing?

While standard editing focuses on grammatical elements, such as sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, tense usage, and word choice, technical editing takes things a step further by assessing the overall language and structure, as well as several other important elements of the overall presentation. Assessment of these elements is essential to fulfilling the criteria set by the target institution or journal. Therefore, a technical editor will ensure adherence to a style guide (e.g, APA, MLA, Chicago) and make adjustments to other stylistic elements, such as headings/sub-headings, citations/footnotes, figure/table captions, and references. In addition, a technical edit may also include a table of contents formation and pagination.

Hence, technical editing is generally suited to articles and manuscripts in the realms of research and academia.

Whether preparing an article for submission to a scientific journal, a university, or a publishing house, technical editing can be broken down into three major levels, as listed below:

• Comprehensive editing: places a specific focus on the content (to ensure accuracy and appropriate language) and format (to ensure clarity in the overall organization and presentation).

• Copyediting: ensures the author’s writing is consistently accurate in terms of both language (i.e., spelling, punctuation, and grammar) and style.

• Proofreading: a comparison of the final and draft copies to ensure complete accuracy before submission.[2]

Selecting the most appropriate level of editing depends on several factors, such as the required submission date (deadline), the author/publisher’s budget, and the overall significance of the document itself. A technical editor may also refer to a specific style guide to ensure accurate formatting according to the preferences of a particular university, publishing house, or journal.

Hence, the editor’s responsibilities pertain to not only the author but also the publisher or organization’s demands, while they must also ensure that the document in question appeals to the reader. In fact, the reader should be the editor’s first priority, given that they must consider factors such as the average target audience, reading ability, the reader’s prior knowledge of the subject, and the publisher or organization’s expectations and values.

Overall, a technical editor helps the writer in myriad ways! A summary of these advantages is provided below:

• Hiring a technical editor can boost a writer’s productivity since they can focus on producing content without having to worry about fine-tuning the stylistic elements.

• Improved readability through consistent writing.

• The writer gains a deeper understanding of product and subject knowledge since they do not have to focus on the format and presentation.

• Increased sales and views owing to clear presentation, clear content, and high-quality documentation (both digital and print).

• Precise definitions of subject matter, technical terminology, and appropriate communication of facts, figures, and methods.

• Accurate formatting of all citations and references.

In summary, a technical editor benefits any writer or organization through their specific role in ensuring quality control and technical expertise. Besides allowing the writer to spend more time on the content creation process, their assistance is also advantageous to any writing team or organization preparing documents for submission to both digital and printed publications.

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