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Professional Technical Editing

Scientific Editing, Technical Documentation

Technical material can be dense, but no topic should be difficult to read. Technical and scientific writing—software manuals, technical documentation, scientific reports and studies—can suffer from common style problems that a technical editor knows how to fix. A technical editor has a good understanding of the subject matter and can unravel complicated text to produce clean, straightforward information. Technical translations can benefit greatly from technical editing.

Documents submitted for technical editing may need a light, medium or heavy edit. In a light technical edit, the editor searches for common errors such as misspellings, typos, punctuation problems, run-ons and fragments. The editor also reviews tables and headlines for correct formatting. Awkward areas of the text are noted, but are not revised.

Documents submitted for a medium technical edit have larger grammatical problems that must be corrected. The technical editor revises misplaced modifiers, passive construction, smothered verbs, parallelism within tables and more. The editor also revises the structure of paragraphs to develop text that is clean, consistent and readable. Decisions for changes are based on a specific style guide—either a standard guide or a house style guide. Names, abbreviations, acronyms, and other facts are verified. The technical editor reviews cross-references and the bibliography to meet style guide preferences.

A heavy technical edit includes all elements of light and medium editing as well as a partial or complete rewrite of the material. The technical editor can add or delete titles, headings and subheadings; rewrite entire sections and insert transitional sentences. Because the editor is expected to be familiar with the topic, content is verified for accuracy.

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