About technical editing

Technical editing today covers far more than printed materials. Technical editors may be required to deal with:

  • Printed materials (for example, books, pamphlets, quick reference cards, reports)
  • Electronic materials (for example, online documentation, online help, web pages)
  • Video scripts
  • Computer-based training materials

In most cases, the audience for the material being edited is not composed of other technical people, and the editor is not the person responsible for ensuring the technical accuracy of the material.

In some cases, the technical editor is responsible for some technical accuracy. For example, when editing a user’s guide for a computer software program, the editor typically tests the written procedures using the software.

Technical editors work in a variety of fields, including:

  • Computer software and hardware
  • Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Sciences
  • Legal, banking and brokerage services
  • Website development for any business or activity

This section of the website includes the following pages.

Technical writing and technical editing

Working with a technical editor
What writers and editors can do to get the best results out of working together.
Who needs a technical editor?
The value and role of editors on a technical writing project.
Who needs a technical writer?
Why successful businesses need to use a professional writer’s services.
Choosing and using a technical writer
How to find and evaluate writers and make the best use of their expertise.
Ethics in scientific and technical communication
Summarises some general categories of ethical issues faced by technical editors.

What do technical editors do?

Escape from the grammar trap
A revised version of this article. Distinguish between essential and nonessential rules of grammar, punctuation, and usage.
Technical editors’ responsibilities
Job advertisements for technical editors in the computer software industry show some of the types of work, and the skills and knowledge required by editors.
The role of the editor in the technical writing team
What editors do; types of edit; interactions with the writing team.
The editor-writer relationship
Strategies for improving the editor’s relationship with writers.
Classifying editorial tasks
Rule-based and analysis-based editing.
What is substantive editing?
How substantive (developmental, comprehensive) editing differs from copyediting.
How long does editing take?
Guidelines for accurate estimation.
Different ways of working
How to organise the flow of writing, editing and reviewing tasks.
Do editors focus on the wrong things?
Too many editors focus on details instead of the bigger picture.


Time zones can be your friend
Advantages of working with people in a distant location.
Marketing your remote editorial services
Things to discuss with a prospective client at a distant location.
Finding telecommuting editorial work
Tips for finding work through networking and creative marketing.
Taming a telecommuting team (version 1)
Advantages, disadvantages, principles and rules of successful telecommuting teams.
Taming a telecommuting team (version 2)
Slightly rewritten for a different publication.
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