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Editing and Proofreading

The terms ‘editing’ and ‘proofreading’ are often used interchangeably, yet it is better to differentiate between them.

What does an editor do?

An editor supports the technical editor during the entire process of constructing the text and their working relationship is comparable to that of a literary author and their editor. The editor assists the technical editor in making the text ‘whole’. Among other tasks, they scrutinise the composition of the entire manual, look for the appropriate style (pitch, telegram style, rules etc.) and check the comprehensibility. Only if an editor feels at home working within a topic area can they determine whether the contents of the manual the technical editor is working on are correct or see if something is missing.

What does a proofreader do?

A proofreader looks for obvious and formal mistakes in the manual that the reader could easily notice at first glance. In particular, they check the:

• spelling
• linguistic consistency
• hyphenation
• punctuation
• special characters
• grammar
• terminological consistency
• layout
• orientation aids
• cross-referencing

They also look for content errors, such as inconsistent terminology, formulations and/or false statements.
In short, while the editor works alongside the technical writer to construct the text, the proofreader takes care of the finishing touches, dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s.

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