Let us start off with an everyday example. We taste what we cook before serving it, don’t we? Well, most of us do! It gives us a chance to make adjustments, balance the flavours, and a few spices to enhance the aroma, perhaps? After all, who would fancy a guest pointing at an undercooked vegetable?!
Cut to technical documentation, the role of an Editor can be thought of as similar to the Master Chef who provides that finesse to content.
Content Writing in itself is an art that swears by the “there is always room for improvement” mantra. Adding on to this is that technical content writing can get a little mundane at times, with the same kind-of procedure writing that can make even the best-in-the-business go complacent. But complacency is something that we can ill afford, considering the importance and visibility of end-user documentation.
This is where the Editor steps in. It is the editor’s job to ensure that every piece of documentation going out is accurate, well-written, and easy to understand. The editor in fact is the ‘first end user’, and has the rare opportunity to be a ‘customer advocate’.
A simple search over the internet throws up a comprehensive list of tasks that an editor is responsible for. For example, you may see tasks such as:
- Reviewing technical documents for grammar, clarity of written content, spelling, and punctuation
- Ensuring that the documents adhere to the company’s style guide
- Editing blogs, and the company’s website content
- Work with front-end engineers and UI designers to come up with UI content that is intuitive and simple
- Mentoring junior and senior writers for content creation, and providing timely feedback
- Updating the company’s style guide and best practices documents
While these may look simple, carrying out these tasks in a systematic way can be quite challenging. Because an editor skims through several pages of content in one go, it is only human to lose track. Hence, it is recommended that the editors also follow an ‘editor’s checklist’ to ensure that there is no scope for any skips or misses. This list can be (but is not limited to):
- Functional Accuracy: Technical documentation is as useful as a bald man’s comb if it is not accurate. An editor’s primary responsibility is to make sure that the feature or function described in the document is free of errors and unambiguous
- Redundancy: Often, editors see what the writers fail to see. Our technical documents are packed with so much technical jargon but hey… do we really need them? You can never keep it short and straightforward if redundancy checks in
- Grammar: The numero uno skill of an editor. A misplaced word or an incorrect spelling can create havoc, and it is the editor’s task to see that none of it goes into the final cut. Although writers these days do use in-built grammar checker tools, typos such as ‘fro’ instead of a ‘for’ can get unnoticed, owing to the missing red underline.
Although writers are SMEs in technical documentation, an editor can bring in a certain finesse to make the document more appealing and crisp. Technical documentation covers a plethora of information.
If this information is well-written and well-structured, it can even reduce support tickets**! An editor’s role in this journey is indisputable. After all, can we ever undermine a person who can tell us if it is ‘Login’ or ‘Log In’? ‘Setup’ or ‘Set Up’?
** An initiative of the Technical Writing team of Razorpay to revamp documentation that yielded brilliant results and reduced Support tickets by more than 50%! Watch this space for another blog on how this was achieved.