A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Kamath, Gurudutt R.

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The Art of Writing Technical Articles

My advice for those wish to become writers: Write! Write! Write! I have always maintained that great writers are born, and professional writers are made. In the born writers there is an unquenchable thirst for writing, a passion for writing. Writing is a mission. Writing is the soul of the person. The professional writer does it for a living. There is a deadline and the writer can churn out the required number of words.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Be Word Perfect!

There has been a tremendous growth in the software industry and some growth in technical writing. Most of my columns ten years ago were rants about the poor state of our manuals and our software. Today, I think the humblest of companies is producing great stuff. The reason for it is simple--globalisation and the Internet.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2002). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing


Dabbling in Document Design

One of the advantages that print journalists have is that they learn document design on the job. Today, thanks to computers and design packages, design awareness is very high. Even the novice computer user becomes proficient in designing documents within a few days, if not weeks. Usually, templates are available for brochures, reports, books, etc. All you need to do is fill in the contents in the readymade template.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Document Design>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric


DocuMentorG Columns

Columns on technical writing. Continuation of the column written from 2001-03 for IT People.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. Topica (2004). Resources>Mailing Lists>Writing>Technical Writing


Grammar Stammer

Don't you think that it is a tragedy that 95 percent of the people who desire to be technical writers have a poor command over the language? I am sure all of us make a mistake or two, once in a while. But to make it in every sentence and paragraph shows utter disrespect for readers.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Editing>Grammar>Technical Writing


Growth Prospects for a Technical Writer

Are there practical chances of growth and scope for learning/improving oneself while working as a technical writer?

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2004). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>India


International Communication

'Localisation' is the term given to changing the software and the related documentation to suit a particular geographical region. One of the major components of localisation is of course translation. Needless to add, I am talking about localisation from an international perspective. Localisation at the national level would mean having software in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, and so on. Surprisingly, this has not happened in a big way.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2000). Articles>Documentation>Localization>India


Learning the Fine Art of Reviewing

If you asked me what the most painful part of being a technical writer is, my answer would be: 'Getting reviews on time. Getting good feedback and inputs on your work.' For me technical writing has been very pleasurable because I hardly got any review comments. My morale has therefore been very high. Project managers, developers and others are so busy trying to come up with good software (read trying to fix all the goof-ups and bugs!) that they usually tend to give documentation lesser importance. User manuals, who reads them anyway? We do not have time for it!

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Editing>Collaboration>Technical Writing


Listen, Observe, Speak

When you are a speaker, you communicate. When you are the audience, you communicate. As a member of the development team, the technical writer has to deal with hundreds of intelligent egos. There are the programmers who think only about solutions and technology (not about people and their emotions). A technical writer would definitely feel hurt, when developers talk down to him. Managers on the other hand are likely to have oodles of people skills and may not have technical skills. Therefore, they may talk nicely to you. Nevertheless, a technical writer may feel that managers do not appreciate his technical skills.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2002). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>Workplace


Making a Proposal

Some of the biggest opportunities in technical writing are in proposal and grant writing. In fact, an American company wanted me to write proposals for them. But I refused saying that I had no experience. Of course, I lost money and a “golden opportunity”. You need not miss out on such an opportunity. If you know English and have some report writing skills, you can become a proposal writer. In India, grant writing or writing reports for grants or funding is not very popular. But in the US grant writing is big business. Technical writers are making big money writing grants and proposals. Typically, departments in universities want funding for their projects. These could come from corporations, trusts, and individuals. How do you convince them to fund your projects? That is what grant writing is about.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2000). Articles>Grants>Proposals>Writing


Meeting Crazy Deadlines

We are all against bonded labour and slavery. I ask you: are software professionals (including technical writers), better off than slaves and bonded labourers?

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Documentation>Project Management


One Cannot Live by Salary Alone

Once our profession is known outside IT, the scope for technical writers will grow in geometric proportions. Clearly, there are good times ahead.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. Indus (2005). Careers>Salaries>Statistics


One Hundred Simple Tech Writing Errors

Here are the 100 writing errors that the author has encountered in his experience. (Followed by the subsequent article 'Ten More Errors in Technical Writing.')

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Editing>Grammar>Technical Writing


Recruiting Spree for Technical Writers

I had a chance to interview three technical writers in Pune, the oasis of technical writers. All of them were techies doing technical writing. I am into EDA technical writing these days (one of the toughest areas of technical writing—this is rocket science, buddies!) and naturally technical acumen is a strength. All of them were new to technical writing (and perhaps even writing) as was evident from the fact that none of them brought in writing samples.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>India


Technical Writers' Mailing Lists

The TWIN (Technical Writers of India) mailing list has crossed 1,000. As the founder and owner, I wanted to stop the list a few years ago when it had touched 675, because I was afraid it would touch 1,000 within a few months. I had other reasons for wanting to stop the list. But the voice of the members prevailed and I handed over the list to the current owner. Why did I start the list? Well, I saw that Indian technical writers (and others), were making a fool of themselves on Techwhirl (a list with around 4,000 members then, today perhaps it has 8,000) and other lists. A professor from a reputed institute in Bangalore had asked about a problem of printing on the list. I was embarrassed. I said, why not restrict this ignominy to ourselves and started the TWIN list.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Writing>Mailing Lists>Technical Writing


Technical Writing in India

The reason for the relatively low number of technical writers in India is because India has been concentrating mainly on doing projects. It is only in recent years that many top multinationals have set up their development factories here. This has dramatically increased the technical writers' population in India. In some companies in Bangalore and Pune, one gets to hear of teams of 10 and 20 technical writers. Otherwise, India is no different to other countries: a large number of technical writers work alone in their companies. Today, all these technical writers have come together to share information and ideas through TWIN, the Technical Writers of India mailing list.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. TC-FORUM (1999). Articles>TC>Regional>India


To Err in English...

There is such a desperate need for technical writers that anyone and everyone is welcome. My only fond hope is that we deliver quality. The minimum requirements for technical writing are good English-language skills, and proper use of grammar and punctuation. Typically, in most of the user manuals that I have picked up in India, I have always found errors after browsing through a few pages. Some of these errors are gross and some of them are subtle.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2002). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>India


Tools of the Technical Writing Trade

In technical writing, the most important tool of the trade is of course your brain. Next come your communication skills and those are followed by language skills. Finally, you will use these tools to create and shape your writing. A word processor is the most important tool of them all.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Word Processing


Training for Wannabe Technical Writers

'More technical writers. Better technical writers.' This is the mantra I have in mind while I write this column.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Education>Technical Writing>India

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