A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Typography is the study and process of typefaces; how to select, size, arrange, and use them in general. Traditionally, typography was the use of metal types with raised letterforms that were inked and then pressed onto paper. In modern terms, typography today also includes computer display and output.



Authoring in XML -- Why Start?

As techcom professionals, we have been talking about authoring in XML for a very long time. At first, it was a lot of hype about a format that required major programming skills and had zero tools’ support, but that is now changing. Today, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of tools that support XML and a standard called DITA that is in constant development to support content publishing for different industries. As a result, more and more companies seem to be embracing this content format.If you are a writer or techcom manager who is encouraging your company to make this change, then what do you need to know to prepare?

Stuhlemmer, Barbara. TechCom Manager (2008). Articles>Writing>XML>DITA


Authoring Teams Become More Geographically Dispersed

Working with people from around the globe has become common practice for both authoring teams and technical documentation professionals. A recent survey conducted by SDL investigated the development of global authoring. The results were compared to surveys from 2007 and 2006. They reveal trends in working methods and shed light on the effects of globalization on global authoring.

Hurst, Sophie. TC World (2008). Articles>Writing>Collaboration>Teleconferencing


Authoring Tools Do Matter

The authoring tool does matter. Writers are focusing on the wrong set of issues (leading, kerning, print formatting), none of which is actually relevant for the output.

O'Keefe, Sarah S. Palimpsest (2009). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Software


Authoring with Eclipse

The topic of technical publishing is relatively new to the world of Eclipse. One can make the argument that technical publishing is just another collaborative development process involving several people with different backgrounds and skills. This article will show that the Eclipse platform is a viable platform for technical publishing by discussing how to write documents such as an article or a book within Eclipse. In fact, this article was written using Eclipse.

Aniszczyk, Chris and Lawrence Mandel. Eclipse (2005). Articles>Content Management>Documentation>XML


AuthorIT: Creating a 2-Column Glossary in Word   (PDF)

How to modify AuthorIT objects to get a 2-column glossary in the Word output.

Bracey, Rhonda. CyberText Consulting (2003). Articles>Word Processing>Style Sheets


Authority and Audience-Centered Writing Strategies: Sexism in 19th-century Sewing Machine Manuals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article examines audience-centered writing strategies in two very early sewing machine manuals and considers the interplay between such strategies and sexism in technical writing. It considers the difference between non-sexist and gender-neutral writing, and concludes that avoiding sexism in technical writing is difficult at best—and perhaps impossible—in any society that assigns work (and correspondingly, technologies) for use according to the gender of the user.

Durack, Katherine T. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>History>Documentation


The Authority of Experience: Assessing the Use of Information Technology in the Classroom   (peer-reviewed)

It is a truism to say that the Internet has made many kinds of information more easily accessible to more people, but scholars in many fields are still trying to figure out how to deal with the consequences. Not only are professionals losing their monopoly over specialized knowledge, but the Internet also allows information to be distributed more widely and allows different kinds of information to flourish. On the Internet as a whole traditional forms of scientific knowledge are not privileged over individuals' reports of their own experience. Professionals often fight back against this trend.

Mack, Pamela E. and Gail Delicio. Journal of Electronic Publishing (2000). Articles>Education>Online


Authors Can’t Be Sued For Linking To Libelous Material

Hyperlinking is fundamental to how information spreads on the web—it’s the reason why traffic spikes on some sites and also explains why false information can funnel outward so quickly. One question that publishers and lawyers have long wrestled with is whether sites are legally liable for the accuracy of material they link out to. In a major ruling today, a court offered an answer to that. Authors should not be held liable for providing links to websites that contain defamatory material, according to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Roberts, Jeff. PaidContent.org (2011). Articles>Legal>Hypertext>Canada


Authors' Rights   (peer-reviewed)

With the advent of powerful networked desktop computers and the World Wide Web, authors have for the first time acquired control of the technology for scholarly communication. That radical change prompts the question of how authors have in the past fared under copyright law, and how they might fare in the future. Anglo-American copyright law has always attempted to regulate the interests of three parties: the author, the publisher, and the public. Before there was a formal copyright law, royal patents granted to the Stationer's Company created printing monopolies and facilitated state censorship. The concerns of authors were hardly considered. The 1710 Statute of Anne, our first formal copyright law, left printers the dominant power in relations between printers and authors. What is most remarkable about the Statute of Anne is that the state's interest began to shift from censorship toward the creation of a public domain for intellectual property.

Bennett, Scott. Journal of Electronic Publishing (1999). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>History


Authorship and Responsibility: The Problem of Special Knowledge   (PDF)

The ethical questions that technical communicators face frequently present themselves obliquely, arising because the communicators depend heavily upon the special knowledge of other people who provide necessary information. The special knowledge that communicators lack and others possess may come from highly technical education, privileged access to information sources, or socially constructed access to information. Proponents of need-to-know policies may argue that limiting communicators' knowledge absolves them of responsibility for the information's veracity and effects; however, more ethically rigorous considerations of the issue consider communicators' authorial roles, their right to know, and their responsibility to their audiences.

Bryan, John G. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Ethics


Authorship for Research Groups   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Major clinical research investigations, especially large multicenter trials, require the involvement, cooperation, and dedication of many individuals. Roles and responsibilities range from conceiving the study and designing the protocol to collecting and analyzing the data, and numerous essential steps in between. Following completion of the study, the most important responsibilities are prompt preparation of a manuscript that reports the study findings, and timely submission of the paper to a journal for peer review, publication, and communication of the study findings to the scientific and clinical communities. The number of collaborative studies and multicenter clinical trials seems to be growing, with increasing numbers of published articles involving a study group. For instance, 22% of the 185 research articles published in JAMA as Original Contributions in 2001 specifically identified a study group, compared with 6% of 172 Original Contributions published 10 years earlier. Authorship of these studies increasingly involves some indication of group participation and responsibility, reflecting the cooperative nature, multidisciplinary teamwork, and complexity of such investigations.

Flanagin, Annette, Phil B. Fontanarosa and Catherine D. DeAngelis. JAMA (2001). Articles>Scientific Communication>Collaboration


Authorship, Appropriation, and the Fluid Text: Versions of the Law

A fluid text is any work that exists in multiple versions. What are the ethics and legality in the creation, sharing, and ownership of textual versions? What are the boundaries of textual appropriation? How does technology abet appropriation; how might it assist in the useful designation of boundaries? Is the law keeping up?

Bryant, John and Wendy Seltzer. MIT (2009). Articles>Intellectual Property>Audio>Podcasts


Automated Email From Websites to Customers

Transactional email can be a website's customer service ambassador, but messages must first survive a ruthless selection process in the user's in-box. Differentiating your message from spam is thus the first duty of email design.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2003). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Automated Mass Production of XSLT Stylesheets

Many have wished for a tool that would automate the creation of XSLT stylesheets. Building the interface alone to such a tool sounds like a tough job, and getting it to output working XSLT stylesheets that accomplish non-trivial tasks also sounds challenging. However, the comfort level of nearly all computer users with basic spreadsheet software actually makes the first task simpler than it once appeared to be, and the ease with which popular spreadsheet programs now save their contents in XML means that when you start with the right spreadsheet template, an XSLT stylesheet is not difficult to create from the XML version of a spreadsheet that uses that template.

DuCharme, Bob. IDEAlliance (2005). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>XSL


Automatic Numbering With CSS Counters

When writing documents, it is often useful to number sections and have a table of contents. You can number these by hand, directly in the markup, but this can be time consuming if the order changes and you have to edit all the numbers. CSS2.1 gives us a automated way to generate numbers using CSS counters, and this article will walk you through how to use them.

Storey, David. Opera (2008). Articles>Web Design>CSS


Automating Documentation Generation

The advent of automatic generation tools, that could automatically generate the information was a major step in the creation of more accurate documentation and it held the promise of saving time and money.

Albing, Bill. KeyContent.org (2004). Articles>Documentation


Automating Production with WebWorks AutoMap

WebWorks AutoMap is an extremely useful tool for performing unattended documentation builds. Out of the box, AutoMap can generate reasonable documents. By adding the power of scripting, the results can be amazing.

Bate, Simon. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>Documentation>Software>Word Processing


Automating Stylesheet Creation

Since the early days of XSLT, many have asked whether it was possible to automate the creation of XSLT stylesheets. The general idea of filling out a form or dragging some icons around, then clicking a button and seeing a productive stylesheet generated from your input has always appealed to people. However, the problem of generating working XSLT syntax from the result of someone clicking on pull-down menus and radio buttons has not attracted many takers.

DuCharme, Bob. XML.com (2005). Articles>Information Design>XML>XSL


Automating the Acquisition of Bilingual Terminology   (peer-reviewed)

As the acquisition problem of bilingual lists of terminological expressions is formidable, it is worthwhile to investigate methods to compile such lists as automatically as possible. In this paper we discuss experimental results for a number of methods, which operate on corpora of previously translated texts.

van der Eijk, Pim. Association for Computational Linguistics (1993). Articles>Language>Linguistics


Automating Your Word Indexes   (PDF)

Have you ever tried to create an index in Word? Were you dissatisfied with the options available in the dialogs? There are other features available that can provide you with a higher level of control over the structure of the index. This article gives you an overview of advanced indexing techniques; see Word’s online help for details. The menu sequences are for Word 2000; there are slight differences in Word 2002.

Unwalla, Mike. TechScribe (2003). Articles>Indexing>Software>Microsoft Word


Automation of Documentation Submittals via HP Quick Test Professional

Are you a Web publisher or Web submitter who uploads documents manually? The primary role of a Web publisher is to publish content on the Web. The content being published could be in different file formats like html pages, pdf documents etc. A typical process involves a Web publisher uploading a document, entering the metadata for the document, and posting it to the Web. This effort is time-consuming. Is there any automated tool that can help Web publishers submit several documents automatically without having to enter the metadata of the documents manually and processing them? The answer is yes.

Basrur, Hemanth. Indus (2009). Articles>Content Management>Metadata>Case Studies


Autopopulating Text Input Fields with JavaScript

Few people will argue against the need to explain to users what they are supposed to enter into text input fields. One common workaround when no label can be displayed is to put some placeholder text in the text field and let that act as the label.This approach works reasonably well, but it burdens the user with having to clear the input before entering their own text, which can lead to frustration and mistakes. An approach that avoids that is using JavaScript to clear the input when it receives focus. Since that won’t work when JavaScript support is missing, JavaScript should be used to insert the placeholder text as well.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Forms


Avi Parush

Few usability professionals are as well-rounded as Avi Parush. Avi has worked in industry and academia, testing and design, the Old World and the New, with web applications and airplane cockpits, in operating rooms and on the bridges of ships.

Anderson, Clifford. Usability Professionals Association (2008). Articles>Interviews>Web Design>Usability


Avoid Culturally Specific References

One of the tenets of good technical communication is to avoid culturally specific references, especially if your material is to be translated into other languages. But what’s a culturally specific reference? In simple terms, it’s a word or phrase that has meaning for members of a cultural group, but has limited meaning, no meaning, or some other meaning for people outside that group.

CyberText Consulting (2009). Articles>Writing>International>Technical Writing


Avoid Demon Adverbs

You can avoid adverbs most of the time by cutting them out -- the reader can do just fine without the extra information.

Barnes, David. Posterous (2009). Articles>Writing>Advice



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