Classic symptoms of poor editing are inconsistencies in language and
format, poor structure, factual inaccuracies and lack of consideration to the reader.
How can you make
a difference when editing a document? Weve outlined below some tips to steer you in
the right direction.
editors aim is to make a document consistent both in language and format. For
example, if a function is called "autocorrect" in Chapter 1, it should be called
this in all sections. Dont change it to "auto-enable" later on for no
reason. Aim to be consistent. Inconsistent writing is not interesting for the reader
its just confusing
presentation formats need to be consistent. All main headings should appear the same;
subheadings should also appear the same, but appear less important than the main headings
i.e. smaller font size.
If your company
has a style guide, follow the sections on words and formats. The style guide may need to
be adapted for online publications if it does not address online document production.
Otherwise, use a recognized guide such as the Chicago Manual of Style.
Readers like to
understand text quickly and don't want to spend time unraveling the meaning of words or
insider terminology. On the Internet, use terms that are globally accepted to mean the
same thing. For example, most users understand the term Homepage. Using the
term Main Channel instead will only confuse readers. Try to use what is
is with ordering forms. When shopping, users fill in the name, address, part number, etc.,
and clicks a button to progress. Most websites call this button, "Add to shopping
cart" or "Add to Order." It is familiar to most online customers.
However, if the
website renames the button "Submit", it will confuse the customer. Submit
implies that the transaction in now complete and the order will be completed, i.e. your
credit card will be charged. Users will not be sure what happens when they click the
button. Most will abandon their shopping carts at this point.
need to be very clearly presented. Monitors impose visual constraints, such as low
resolutions and small screensizes. On small screens, one-pixel thin lines and small text
is almost unreadable. Use intuitive color-coding to clarify the graphics meaning. A
workflow diagram, for example, could have one process in blue and another in red.
Important graphics should require little scrolling. Good editing creates a consistent look
throughout the publication.
guidelines for online text involve:
· Break up large
text blocks. Lengthy text needs to be split into more digestible chunks or at least
separated by headings, white space and graphics.
· Keep text in
context. Check that content, such as context sensitive help, make sense in relation to its
location. The content may be accurate, but the location may be wrong.
· Be consistent.
Users get confused when terms change meaning. For example, the presentation of Online Help
should be similar in appearance so that users recognize it as online help and not anything
else. Other functions, such as pop-up dialog boxes, should have a different appearance.
recognized standards. When users access an online help file, they expect it to do certain
things. Any variations on the standard---such as embedded help or tutorial help---should
be introduced and explained to the user.
· Consider Global
audiences. Web writing should be reduced to the essentials and word choice kept to the
Standard English guidelines. Editing should capture and remove words and structures that
confuse non-native-English readers.
Content is king,
but editing makes a winner!