English 427 :: Technical Editing

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  • 1. English 427 :: Technical Editing Winter 2007 :: Justin Bright Client Project Reflective Report :: Learning By Example and Discovering Improvements By Justin Bright Introduction: Marketing Strategies The project I took on was to edit two advertising documents for Creative Trends, Robert Brights eBay selling business. Robert designs his own product advertisements to be placed into the description section of the default eBay product listing. These documents are meant to describe in detail the features and specifications of the product, but are also the only advertising for their product that a seller has control over. A good advertising document will explain why the product is a good one, and why it is a good deal in the state it is in that is, if its used, opened or damaged. The content of Roberts documents was there, but it was presented in such a way that the format was distracting, and the user would not know where to look to find the important information on the page. In taking on this task for my father, I had to be conscious of our existing relationship. However, we both went into the consultation sessions understanding that this was not a task to simply be given over to me and forgotten about. Since he understood that I have a significant amount of experience in doing this work from my classes, many issues of my own credibility were avoided. Another major issue I had to contend with was the fact that Ive never written an advertisement, for eBay or otherwise. To get a feel for how these actually worked, I had to base my judgment on similar advertisements. This was a very valuable experience, through which I learned a lot about the editing process, as well as the process of working with a client to develop a better document. These experiences will certainly transfer to other situations. In this report I will talk about several of the major experiences that struck me as the most important. Section I: Discovering What Good Is This process took longer than I initially thought it would. As I began looking over several of the advertisements listed on eBay, The first issue I had to contend with was I found that many of them were simply figuring out what a good eBay advertisement unsuitable. Many of these could use some looked like. In looking at the documents work themselves, and were far from good given to me by Robert, I realized that while I enough to use as a reference in helping had some ideas, I did not know what made Robert to improve his own documents. up a good advertisement. In order to make any real substantive edits, I would need to To narrow down my search to successful do some research on other successful advertisements, I used a feature of eBay in advertisements. which you can search for an item, and then
  • 2. Learning By Example and Discovering Improvements :: Bright 2 show only the listings which were completed advertising worked, and what items needed and sold successfully. It was in studying to be in the document, and what did not these documents that I was able to see some need to be in the document. Talking about better looking advertisements, and it was on these things on that level built up my the basis of several of these that I made my position as an editor, and made the actual edits. sit-down session go a lot more smoothly. Section II: Working with Dad I felt like I needed to separate our relationships simply to benefit me during Once I had a solid basis from which I could this editing process. If I approached him work, the next potential issue showed itself. only as his son, with helpful tips on his There is obviously no way to completely documents, he might just take them without avoid the issues of dealing with a pre- question. However, in doing things the way I existing relationship when working on a did, he questioned every edit that I made project like this for your own father, that didnt immediately make sense to him. but this was something that needed to be In explaining why I made each change, I got addressed early on to try to make those a better understanding of the work I was issues less apparent. doing, and he was more satisfied as a client. The type of relationship required for this Section III: Working through the sort of project is a more professional one. Tough Points That is, I wanted to be taken seriously as an editor, not just as Roberts son throwing out There was one instance in which he suggestions. To that end, I prepared all of disagreed entirely with one of my my comments on a separate sheet of paper suggestions. On the second document I prior to meeting with Robert. In preparing edited, the advertisement for the espresso myself ahead of time, I could present my machine, he had included the suggestions and arguments in a clear and manufacturers suggested retail price organized fashion, and gain more credibility (MSRP) right in the title line of the for myself as an editor in his eyes. document. I didnt understand the purpose of including that number, and thought it Another factor in deciding to prepare my looked bad in the advertisement, so I statements beforehand was our respective suggested that he remove it entirely. availability. Robert and I are out and away from the house generally at different times He did not agree, but he was willing to just of the day, and so we usually only see each go along with what I said. Knowing that a other at home once or twice during the day, real client would not comply so easily, I and even then only for an hour or so. asked him why it was that he thought it Therefore, I did all the work I could on my would be included. He told me that end beforehand, so that we could work including the MSRP can show the customer through the document and prepare it for the that, by purchasing the product from him in final editing process in a single meeting. this eBay listing, they would be getting a bargain. Before I actually went to meet him, during my editing process, there were questions With that, I saw the inclusion of the MSRP that I needed answered. Each time, I in a new light, but we both agreed that it did addressed him as my client, and we not belong in the title line on the page. I proceeded in a professional manner when suggested then that he move it down to the we talked. More specifically, I had to ask features list, where it seemed to fit much several times about how the eBay more naturally.
  • 3. Learning By Example and Discovering Improvements :: Bright 3 Section IV: Why this Works (Or Also of concern was the usage of all caps for Doesnt) the top few lines of the document. This was distracting, and the message came across The relationship between Robert and me more clearly when the text was in upper- eased many of my concerns about bringing and lower-case. up the problems associated with the original document. However, I still had to be This reevaluating process was a valuable conscious of the fact that this was his experience for me. In breaking things down writing, and although there were many in a hierarchical way, I was able to deliver a problems, I had to convey the solutions to strong point for the most important changes, these problems not as a critic, but as a coach and then speak about the less important to help him make better documents in the ones after. It also gave me good practice in future and not be discouraged by the points discovering what would be more important I would raise. to a reader. The way that I approached this issue was by taking the users perspective. Looking over Conclusion: Developing the Clients the two original documents, I evaluated Skills them as a prospective buyer would, and scanned them quickly for pertinent This project worked out to be a great information. I noticed that the issues that I learning experience for both myself and for had as an editor did not necessarily coincide Robert. I learned many things regarding the exactly with the readers issues. Some of the process of editing a document for a client, stylistic changes I would have liked to make such as how to propose a project, discover were not something I would have noticed as the needs of the audience, build better client a reader, and therefore their priority fell. relationships, and explain and defend my editing choices as necessary. With this rebuilt list of things to change, I was able to provide Robert with a Robert learned a considerable amount about comprehensive list of changes to be made to how to create a better advertisement, which the document. The minor stylistic changes is something that he may not have expected were included as well, but when I presented when the project began. When we talked it to him, they were a secondary concern to about the document, I made sure to go over the major issues of readability and every aspect of creating that document, and accessibility. offered him ideas and tips on how to make the changes happen in his own document. The things I prioritized most based on those criteria were mostly format issues. For In the end, Robert came through with the example, the original document was final version of the document, and the centered all the way down the page, as improvement over the original is vast. In Robert believed that things in the center working with him on this, I believe he has were more important. I presented him with taken away some valuable skills, just as I the idea of using few strong lines in the have. document, to guide the readers eyes down the page to where he would want them to go.