Technical Editors' Eyrie Photo of Osprey
Resources for technical editors Home page About technical editing Books Tips, techniques and checklists Links to other resources Newsletter archives Site index Search this site Business basics: marketing, website development, and more



Issue 37, 1 June 2000

ISSN 1442-8652

Editor: Jean Hollis Weber

In this issue...

Feature article: Editing a table of contents (Part 2)
Microsoft Word macro for title case
Chapters 4 and 5 of Editing Online Help now available for comment
Poynter Institute articles on editing
What do technical editors do? (a continuing series)
Clickbook 2000 available now
Contributors wanted
Advertisement: Electronic editing book
Advertising policy
Subscription information

Feature article: Editing a table of contents (Part 2)

Last issue I discussed chapter titles and headings as indicators of a document's structure. This week I look at some other editing issues regarding headings.

Parallel headings

If you look at some tables of contents, you'll notice different styles of headings. Some are questions; others are statements, instructions, or words and phrases.

In most cases, a well-edited table of contents will have all the headings at the same level in any one chapter similar in their structure; these are called "parallel" headings.

For example, all these headings are questions:

How much does your audience know?
How much education have they had?
Are they good readers?
Do they have any misconceptions?
Do they have any physical disabilities?
What is their ethnic background?

In another chapter in the same document, all the headings are words or phrases:

Too few words
Parallel structures
Long, rambling questions
Double-pronged questions

In another document, two chapters use statements for headings:

The approach

Define the overall objective
Identify the specific response you want
Consider your receiver's point of view

The planned attack

Interpret the directive or commission
Decide on your approach
Research or collect your facts
Organize your information
Write the first draft
Write the final draft

Now consider some examples of nonparallel headings (taken from Technical Editing, The Practical Guide for Editors and Writers, by Judith A. Tarutz). Revise these headings so they are parallel.

(Instructions for a clock)

Setting the Time
Setting the Alarms

(Instructions for a radio)

Tuning the Radio
Radio Volume
Presetting Your Radio Stations
Using Presets

(Instructions for an answering machine)

Answer Machine ON/OFF
Recording Your Greeting
To Check Your Greeting

Skipped heading levels

Look carefully to see if any level 1 heading is followed by a level 3 heading, without any level 2 heading in between (or any other combination that skips a heading level). You can usually tell this easily from the table of contents, where different heading levels are usually set in different fonts or are indented by different amounts.

If you find a place where a heading has been skipped, you need to decide if the level 3 heading should be raised to a level 2 (if it is equivalent in importance to other level 2 headings in the chapter) or if a level 2 heading should be inserted somewhere in the text. You may have to ask the author for more information.

Orphaned subheadings

One important use for subheadings is to break a chapter (or section) into two or more sections (or subsections), usually with an introductory sentence or paragraph before the first subsection. A chapter or section that has only one subheading may need some work. You need to decide:

These questions sometimes lead you to realize that:

Improving the flow of information by adding headings

Many documents (even those without a table of contents) use headings and subheadings to break up long stretches of text and to assist readers in finding the information they want. Even if they read the document all the way through the first time, readers may want to refer to it again to refresh their memory on a particular point.

When you try to add headings, you may discover that you can't easily find a logical place to put them. This often indicates that too many ideas are jumbled up together. You may need to take a step back and restructure the document (or parts of it) before you can insert logical headings.

Back to top

Microsoft Word macro for title case

For those who want Microsoft Word to do title case properly -- with lowercase articles and prepositions -- Jane Kerr's True Title Case macros for Word 97, available at the Electric Editors site, does the job nicely. It comes with an editable exclusion list, so you can arrange to lowercase anything you please. You can assign the macro to a keyboard shortcut for easy use. Full instructions are included in the template.

You'll find Electric Editors at

Look for the link to "Jane Kerr's True Title Case macros". Note: clicking on the link downloads a self-extracting file, rather than linking to more information.

Back to top

Chapters 4 and 5 of Editing Online Help now available for comment

Editor's note: This book was published in October 2000. For more information, see

Back to top

Poynter Institute articles on editing

Lindsay Rollo brought to my attention the US-based Poynter Institute, This site included the following items by Anne Glover, dated January 1996. If you search the site for "Glover," you'll find more articles by her.

The site and the articles mentioned are primarily aimed at newspaper editors, but most of the points made in the articles are applicable to any editor.

Back to top

What do technical editors do? (a continuing series)

Moved to

Back to top

Clickbook 2000 available now

Note: I am an affiliate of Blue Squirrel, the developers of Clickbook.

Clickbook is a product that enables you to print any document or web page separately or together in a booklet format.

The new release, ClickBook 2000, offers some new options:

To find out more about ClickBook 2000, go to:

Clickbook 2.0 for Macintosh

ClickBook 2.0 for Macintosh is finally here. It has new features and capabilities such as:

For more information, go to:

Back to top

Contributors wanted

I'm looking for people to contribute some articles, or tips, or short notes about almost anything related to editing, to this newsletter. If you have something relevant to share, please send it to me! I'm sure the readers would appreciate some contributions about different working styles, materials and clients.

Back to top

Advertisement: Electronic editing book

Electronic editing: Editing in the computer age
by Jean Hollis Weber
Published by WeberWoman's Wrevenge
248 pages
ISBN 0646380370

A quick start guide for editing students, experienced editors making the switch from paper to online, and anyone who needs to write or edit electronically.

Available in both downloadable electronic (PDF) and printed forms. For details on ordering a copy, see

or send e-mail to

Back to top

Advertising policy

If you have a product or service of interest to editors, I'll be happy to consider including a short advertisement, for a modest fee. Contact me for details.

© Copyright 2000, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.

You may forward this newsletter (in whole or in part) to friends and colleagues, as long as you retain this copyright and subscription information, and do not charge any fee.

Subscription information

This newsletter is no longer being published.

Privacy statement

I do not sell, rent, or give my mailing list to anyone.