Presented by Jean Hollis Weber
to the Australian Society for Technical Communication (NSW) Conference, 2 November 1996
Editing online materials
Editing anything that is intended to be read on a computer rather than (or in addition to) being read on a paper copy.
Online (on screen) editing
Making changes to a computer file, rather than marking changes on paper copy for someone else to type in.
Online materials (examples)
- Online help, computer-based training (CBT), electronic performance support (EPS)
- CD-ROM (e.g. encyclopedias)
- World Wide Web pages
- Multimedia (including kiosks)
- Any other hypertext document
Knowledge and skills needed
- The usual technical editing skills
- An understanding of the principles of hypertext documents or multimedia
- Ability to conceptualise material in a new format
- An understanding of the limitations and capabilities of the tools used to create and display the materials
- Hypertext links
- Layout, fonts, white space: how much control do you have
- Chunking topics to fit a screen
- Tables, illustrations, lists, indented: problems and considerations
- Making changes: how, who, when
Hypertext links – questions to ask
- Too many, too few, or just right?
- Are the links helpful, logical, trivial, confusing?
- Is the type (pop-up, part-screen, full-screen, animated etc) appropriate?
- If a screen is called from more than one link, does it always make sense?
Where do the links go?
- One to many
- Many to one
- Many to many
Control of layout
- How much can the users change? Fonts? Size of display window?
- How much can you control?
- How much should you control?
- Keep topics short to minimise scrolling
- Use hypertext links to provide
- Access to related information
- What to do if something doesn’t work
Tables, illustrations, lists, indented
- May need to revise to minimise scrolling
- Is the illustration helpful, or just a pretty picture?
- Consider download time
- Indented materials and lists may not display correctly on all systems; simplify
- Indents may cause too-narrow columns
Check it online
- Some things you can’t check on hard copy:
- Do the links work?
- Topic length okay?
- Indexing and search facilities okay?
- Illustrations etc display okay?
- Best to check on several systems if possible.
- May need hard copy:
- To mark changes
- To spot consistency problems
- To make sure you haven’t missed any screens
- If you have the right tools, you may be able to mark the changes online as you go.
Last updated 23 November 1998