Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A few weeks ago, I attended the SDL Innovate 2010 Conference held in Santa Clara, California. The conference's main topic was on localization, internationalization, translation, and the use of DITA/XML to enhance this process.

For those of you who are confused and lost already, this conference was about documentation. How to create it, how to reuse the contents, how to make the contents acceptable to a target (local/international) audience, and how to use technology (DITA/XML) to make all this happen.

DITA? (Darwin Information Typing Architecture)
XML? (eXtensible Markup Language - Similar to HTML and a component in XHTML, which are subsets of SGML. Document markup languages that are used for print (SGML) and web (HTML)... XML with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and DITA are replacing HTML for most applications because they have more flexibility.

Anyway... back to the point of the conference and what I'm finding applies directly to me. Much of the conference was centered on DITA. The reuse of document components. Storing the document components in a component content management system (CCMS) or (CCM) or (CMS). A big point was that to avoid redundancy and costs in translation and documentation in general was to ensure that each word used has a specific value in communication, if it doesn't have any value, then delete it. Wow. The value of a word. Let's look at that!


Words have value. For someone writing to communicate, the VALUE of the word in making that communication happen is something to consider.

Is the word "dead-wood"? Is it redundant? Is it unnecessarily complicated or vague? Does it contribute more to wordiness rather than meaning? If it's any or all of these, the word should be deleted or replaced with a word of VALUE.

This is perhaps the ESSENCE of technical/scientific writing/editing (in the best form). Unfortunately, more and more coming out of academia with high-falutin' degrees churn out bafflegab and gobbledegook... writing that is totally unreadable and indecipherable.

As an EDITOR and WRITER, I can help scientists, engineers, technical folks, and yes, even academics fix their prose such that it is readable, while retaining the meaning and content intended.

The point? If your writing is filled with *static*--words that are not contributing to the meaning of the document, then you are losing your audience.

If you don't care about your audience or whether they understand your thoughts and meaning, then fine. Go ahead and write the gobbledegook and academic bafflegab you were trained (maybe) to produce.

But if you want your writing to shine, either learn how to write well... or hire an editor who can not only polish your work to make it shine, but also act as a mentor for your writing such that eventually you'll be able to write well on your own.

Yes... this was a blatant "sales pitch" for my editing services! :-) If you feel you'd like help with your writing, drop a note so we can discuss what I can offer to you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Reason Why an "Editorial Check" is Important!

It seems that the head of the Chilean government's treasury let a major typo get away from him. The NAME of the country was misspelled on their 50-peso coin. No-one noticed for a year after the coins were issued. More information Here.

See? There IS a reason why another pair of eyes (and preferably EDITORIAL eyes) are good for any type of writing or documentation!