Editorial guides are a valuable means in technical documentation. They make life easier for technical editors and contribute decisively to the quality of the documents.
An editorial guide contains a great number of standards that are mandatory for the creation of documents within an editorial team. That way it helps the editors to guarantee a consistent layout and a high level of quality throughout the documents. At the same time it conveys assurance in case there are any doubts. Day-to-day questions on the document structure or on the layout no longer have to be answered tediously one-by one, as a glance into the editorial guide provides the answer. New members of staff and external service providers can be integrated in short time, as they quickly and reliably become familiar with all editorial rules.
In big documentation departments spread across several locations, the editorial guide is vital in enabling the editors to work as a team. Without an editorial guide, there would emerge a shambles of heterogeneous processes and inconsistent documents.
Depending on how well structured processes within a documentation department are, an editorial guide can be anything between a small adjustment and a radical change. In a department without any controlled processes, it will take much longer to introduce a structured way of working. However, this is where an editorial guide is most fruitful. Standardizing processes will improve results significantly.
From an economic perspective, an editorial guide seems to make sense as well. On the one hand, you do have to invest time to conceive, create and maintain the editorial guide. On the other hand, it not only improves the quality of technical documentation, but also saves costs. With mandatory rules for using terminology, the expenditure for translations can be reduced significantly.
An editorial guide regulates all important aspects for the creation of technical documentation: from process organization to the details of the layout.
The quality of technical documentation suffers whenever every technical editor looks for individual solutions when creating and editing documents: Processes within the department are slowed down by frictions, there is no consistency in the documents, compulsory quality standards can hardly be met. An editorial guide sets an end to this mess – quality is improved, time exposure and costs are reduced.
Naturally, to make sure the editorial guide is effective, it is necessary that the documented processes and standards are put into action. That is why you should involve all parties concerned when you create an editorial guide. Only then can you be sure that the real everyday demands are taken into account – and that all members of the technical documentation department adopt the editorial guide as a valuable asset.