A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication (and technical writing).


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Alternatives to the Paragraph

'It's all in the manual.' How many times have you heard that - or said it in frustration? After all, when you are the person who wrote the manual, you know that all the answers are there. But time and again readers can't find what they need to know, or don't understand the material. Before you blame the reader, look again at how you've presented the material.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1989). Articles>Editing>Technical Writing


Can the Computer Improve your Writing Style?   (PDF)

We have spell checkers. We have grammar checkers. What we really need is a style checker.

Cohen, Gerald. STC Proceedings (2000). Articles>Writing>Editing>Word Processing


Combine Writing, Editing and Design in Your Employee Publication

After more than a decade of working in the corporate environment, I have finally accepted that readers need to be enticed by more than the promise of a good read: They need proof. They want a visual two-second test-drive before they decide whether or not to spend precious minutes on a particular page. This is not to say that corporate readers are not discerning or that sloppy copy reads any better when dressed up with elaborate design. The truth is that in any corporate publication, a great article won't be read if the layout is poor. Similarly, a stunning design falls flat if the content doesn't live up to it.

Dower, Sophia. Communication World Bulletin (2007). Articles>Writing>Editing>Newsletters


The Construction of Author Voice by Editorial Board Members   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Studies of blind manuscript review have illustrated that readers often form impressions of or speculate about unknown authors' identities in the manuscript review task. In this article, the authors extend that work by examining the discursive and nondiscursive features that play a role in readers' active construction of author voice. Through a survey completed by 70 editorial board members of six journals in applied linguistics and rhetoric and composition, the authors identify quantitative and qualitative trends in reviewers' practices regarding voice construction. Findings indicate that many readers do build impressions of an author's identity when reviewing anonymous manuscripts and that the rhetorical nature of the review task may lead readers to attend more to some discursive features than to others.

Tardy, Christine M. and Paul Kei Matsuda. Written Communication (2009). Articles>Writing>Editing>Publishing


Copywriting Tip: Have the Computer Read Your Writing Back To You

You don’t have an office mate willing to read your work aloud? Don’t want to bug someone to read your two paragraph blog post? Have your computer read it to you!

ChirpUp (2009). Articles>Writing>Editing>Audio


Correcting Text Production Errors: Isolating the Effects of Writing Mode From Error Span, Input Mode, and Lexicality   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Error analysis involves detecting, diagnosing, and correcting discrepancies between the text produced so far (TPSF) and the writers mental representation of what the text should be. The use of different writing modes, like keyboard-based word processing and speech recognition, causes different type of errors during text production. While many factors determine the choice of error-correction strategy, cognitive effort is a major contributor to this choice. This research shows how cognitive effort during error analysis affects strategy choice and success as measured by a series of online text production measures. Text production is shown to be influenced most by error span, that is, whether the error spans more or less than two characters. Next, it is influenced by input mode, that is, whether the error has been generated by speech recognition or keyboard, and finally by lexicality, that is, whether the error comprises an existing word. Correction of larger error spans is more successful than that of smaller errors. Writers impose a wise speed accuracy trade-off during large error spans since correction is better, but preparation times (time to first action) and production times take longer, and interference reaction times are slower. During large error spans, there is a tendency to opt for error correction first, especially when errors occurred in the condition in which the TPSF is not preceded by an auditory prompt. In general, the addition of speech frees the cognitive demands of writing. Writers also opt more often to continue text production when the TPSF is presented auditorially first.

Leijten, Mariëlle, Luuk Van Waes and Sarah Ransdell. Written Communication (2010). Articles>Writing>Editing>Grammar


Do I Really Need a Style Guide?

Style guides recommend certain styles. In the domain of technical communication, we refer to guides for writing style, presentation of content in user documentation and technical documents, and graphical user interface of software and web sites.

Palagummi, Sharada. Indus (2009). Articles>Style Guides>Editing>Writing


Do I Really Need a Style Guide?

Style guides recommend certain styles. In the domain of technical communication, we refer to guides for writing style, presentation of content in user documentation and technical documents, and graphical user interface of software and web sites.

Palagummi, Sharada. Indus (2009). Articles>Style Guides>Editing>Writing


Do You Like Jigsaw Puzzles?

I have been pondering technical editing processes. Most notably, as I play on my iPad putting together jigsaw puzzles made from my favorite vacation photos, I have pondered whether most technical editors like putting together jigsaw puzzles.

Corbin, Michelle. Corrigo (2012). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Writing


Editing and Publishing

Once the main text has been written, you edit it. Editing means breaking text into sub-documents; pointing out connections to other texts; making sure the document as a whole is in good shape; adding indices and outlines. Editing doesn't necessarily happen after the first text has been written - I mix those stages all the time - but it deserves to be thought of as an independent discipline, because the problems it deals with are different. Most of what people do on the World Wide Web is really editing, not writing.

Technische Universität Berlin. Articles>Web Design>Editing>Writing


Editing and Revising With Flair   (PDF)

Samuel Johnson wrote 'What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.' The wisdom contained in this pithy directive should serve as an excellent guide for writers who edit and revise documents to imbue them with a sense ofpanache. While proper syntax, diction, and usage are three primary elements in the editing and revising process, other important considerations include: (a) eliminating redundancies; (b) avoiding jargon; (c) cleaning bureaucratic expressions; (d) using active andpassive voice appropriately; (e) avoiding wordiness; and Gf) editing for slips in grammar, punctuation and mechanics.

Wadia, Mickey. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Editing>Writing


Editing Modular Documentation: Some Best Practices

Much has been said about the creation of modular documentation - from content management systems, to information architecture, to delivery forms, to the usability of modular content (content being easier to use, easier to understand, and easier to find), and so on. However, not much has been said about the editing of that content, and what the editor's role is in such an environment.

Corbin, Michelle and Yoel Strimling. WritersUA (2008). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Technical Editing


Editing Web Pages: A Second Look   (PDF)

How to edit Web pages--with revision tracking--using Microsoft Word.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Intercom (2004). Articles>Editing>Web Design>Writing


Editing Your Own Documentation   (Word)

Technical writers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that the user is stupid. I have often heard technical writers say things like 'well, if the user can't figure that out, maybe he’s in the wrong job!'

Docsymmetry (2003). Articles>Documentation>Editing>Technical Writing


Editing Yourself

Here are some tips that helped me edit my own writing.

Leigh, Heather. Crazy for Words (2007). Articles>Editing>Writing>Technical Writing


Electronic Outlining as a Tool for Making Writing Visible

The electronic outlining software found in many commercial programs, when projected on the classroom wall, helps us train students in the main activities involved in creating an outline. Freed from paper, the electronic outline allows continuous revision, encourages multiple iterations of the many interdependent activities involved in research, planning, writing, and revision, and serves as a focal point for discussion of the ways in which the group is developing an ongoing consensus, as part of a larger conversation.

Price, Jonathan R. Communication Circle, The (1997). Articles>Education>Editing>Writing


The Fault of Vacuity   (PDF)

I labeled wordiness the most obvious fault in technical writing. In retrospect, I think I was wrong. I believe the greatest fault our writing can have is vacuity, or lack of substance. We too often write words that say nothing.

Bush, Donald W. Intercom (2004). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Technical Writing


Final Check: Dotting Those i’s and Crossing Those t’s

You’ve worked long and hard on your article, newsletter, press release, promo brochure or report. Now it’s time to move your baby off your screen and into the world. Not so long ago your baby would have gone either onto a printed page or onto the Web. These days, your words will probably head for both. Even materials such as newsletters, white papers, reports and advertorials that are first published on paper are quite likely to be reprinted, archived or otherwise reused on the Web, perhaps even as an audio file or podcast. People may even blog about your content. What does this mean for you as a business communicator?

Canavor, Natalie and Claire Meirowitz. Communication World Bulletin (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Editing>Writing


Four Lessons Learned During a Long-term Editing Gig

Avon Murphy provides insight that you could leverage as an editor. Based on vast experience, Avon gives 4 useful pointers that it might do well for you to keep in mind.

Murphy, Avon J. Corrigo (2011). Articles>Editing>Technical Editing>Writing


Good Writing and Editing: Are They Dying Arts? And, Should We Care?

The answer to both questions: "YES!" Like us, you may be dismayed by the growing quantity of poor writing that bombards us. We see it everywhere, in publications, web sites, newspapers and corporate materials—writing that is not just full of grammatical mistakes and misused words, but is also poorly thought-out, unclear and contains downright confusing language.

Canavor, Natalie and Claire Meirowitz. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Writing>Editing


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


Hockey Sticks and User Assistance: Writing in Times of Resource Constraints

If you have all the resources you need, do the very best job you can in all respects. But if your resources are tight, ask yourself whether you are writing the essential stuff at a level of quality users will notice. Also, ask whether the value of the documentation you are producing aligns with the economic pressures on your company.

Hughes, Michael A. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Writing>Technical Editing


Incorporating Peer Review

Peer review is an exercise in which students review each other's written work. Peer review is often connected to revision, a part of the writing process in which writers refine and make substantive changes to their written work.

University of Minnesota (2004). Articles>Education>Editing>Writing


Incorporating Revision

Revision refers to the process of reviewing one's work and making changes (either local or global) to improve the writing.  Most teachers of writing encourage students to revise their work by creating drafts and going through a process of review -- either by having teacher review drafts or having other students review drafts.

University of Minnesota (2004). Articles>Education>Editing>Writing


Is Revision Separate from Writing?

In thinking and writing about groups working on revising a document, I’ve become increasingly convinced that “revision” may be an artificial separation. There is a substantial, though not insurmountable, body of research that indicates revision is indeed something different than writing, or that revision is at least something which it is possible to distinguish from writing even if it is not separable from writing.

England, Pete. Blogspot (2010). Articles>Writing>Editing



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