How long will the editing take?

February 5, 2010

A colleague asked how long it would take for me to review a Word document (edit, fix formatting and styles, troubleshoot weird Table of Contents etc.). Well, how long is that proverbial piece of string?

Here was my response:

How long is dependent on several things, particularly:

  • length of the document (typically, it takes longer to edit 200 pages than 50 — as you would expect)
  • technical complexity of the document (if there are lots of statistics, or content we’re not familiar with, then it takes longer than for something we’re more familiar with; likewise a document with lots of tables, figures, appendices, landscape pages etc. will take longer than one that’s mostly text in portrait orientation)
  • level of editing required (formatting and sorting out styles ONLY should take less time than a full review where we edit the content for grammar, spelling, punctuation, check citations against the references list, check terms, check against the boilerplate text in the template, check against the Editorial Guide [style guide] etc.)
  • author’s ability to write (some are great, some not so good; a good author requires less time from us as their writing requires less changes)
  • author’s ability to follow our Editorial Guide (see comment above re author’s ability to write)
  • which template the author has used, and how familiar they are with it (if we have to put the content into a new copy of the template because it’s got corrupted, add at least half to one day to each estimate).

These are guesses based on my prior experience with similar documents. [My fellow technical writer/editor and I] may be able to edit a good document (shortish, well-written, follows the Editorial Guide etc.) in one day; more typically it’s two. Some docs blow out to 3 or 4 (the worst I’ve had was 5…). And some of us appear to work faster than others because we have less interruptions etc. For example, I work from home with no meetings to attend, nobody to interrupt me, no office distractions, no fire drills etc. Therefore my “1 to 2 days” is elapsed time for me, whereas that 1 to 2 days for my associate might take her 3 to 5 days as she has so many interruptions that I don’t have. She may spend the same number of hours on a document, but they won’t necessarily be concentrated hours as she sits in an office cubicle surrounded by others and has all those other commitments.

See also:

[Links last checked January 2010]


  1. […] technical communication specialists « Outlook: Save multiple attachments at once How long will the editing take? » How long will it take? And what will it cost? February 4, 2010 One of the hardest […]

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