10 Things Your Technical Copy Editor Does — So Your Reader Doesn’t Have to
As part of your IP strategy, you can protect your innovation through defensive publication. It’s a critical step to maintaining relevance and a competitive edge in your field. A good defense, and your mark of novelty, depends on the document that presents it.
“Wait. Whaaat?” If your reader says that, they are confused. Your defensive publication is not serving its purpose.
“Oh, ok. Now I think I get it.” If your reader says that, they think they are not confused, but may have reached a precarious point of understanding. Your defensive publication is working against you.
Innovative thinkers and prolific inventors are not necessarily good technical writers. It is sometimes difficult to view your world from an outsider’s perspective. Thus, an invention disclosure turned to defensive publication can easily become difficult to consume and understand, even by someone in the field. These are new ideas, alternative approaches, fresh concepts! Leaving readers to their own devices with a document that is vague, presumes a high level of knowledge, or is laden with unbroken lines of detail could lead them down a path of misunderstanding that diffuses all of your efforts.
Don’t leave it up to the reader to interpret your meaning. To ensure the viability of your defensive publication, use a professional technical copy editor. Here are 10 things that a copy editor can do so your reader doesn’t have to.
Multiple times. Backward and frontward. A copy editor makes sure you are saying what you mean and the meaning is clear the first time.
Analyze. Synthesize. Squint! What is happening in the figures? Do the figures align with the context? How are the sections divided – or not divided? A copy editor looks at all of the pieces and helps put them together to form a cohesive description of the invention.
Sometimes this is as simple as looking up initialisms and acronyms. They need to be written out in the first instance, especially as some have many possible meanings. A copy editor can also quickly check and then note any copyrighted or trademarked terms or images.
A technical copy editor teaches your discussion good manners. Readers become exhausted and flustered when they are not allowed a comma break or a full stop in the middle of a paragraph. Don’t make them suffer through it. A copy editor also curbs creative punctuation, so your descriptions are clean and clear.
Sometimes, as an inventor gets deep into their description, the actors and actions, parts and functions of the system become muddled. The technical copy editor disentangles the narrative and draws straight lines connecting the operation to the person or component that performs it.
From high-level steps in a process to detailed algorithms, the order is key to illustrating enablement. The inventor develops the methodology, and then the technical copy editor helps show the implementation in a clear and obvious way.
If you want your defensive publication to remain anonymous, then you do not want the readers to discover identifying information. The technical copy editor finds and removes specific references such as company names, product names and logos, inventors’ names, and more.
Overlapping ideas and redundant descriptions are byproducts of the effort to be thorough. These confuse the reader: Did I read this already? Does this mean the same as it did when I read it a page ago? Is this part of the background discussion or prior art list? The copy editor can answer these questions to separate the new from the re-used and streamline the description of your solution.
Keeping it simple and clear, the technical copy editor uses a consistent format. What is the problem? What is the solution? How does it work? Give an example. A copy editor puts all the right parts in all the right places.
Most important is your statement of novelty. It has to jump out at the reader; be clear but specific, concise but detailed. It’s your diamond, and the copy editor helps it shine.
When you choose to release your idea to the public domain, once you have made your point, you need to ensure that other people can understand it. Don’t force your reader to work too hard or risk them taking a wrong turn. Before you publish an essential document describing your invention, have a technical copy editor give it a once-over.
Learn more about editing and defensive publication with IP.com by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.