Policy writing and procedure writing is challenging because of the mechanics involved. Words must be carefully chosen; nuances must be considered. Understanding the mechanics of writing these documents is critical; however, an often overlooked aspect should be dealt with before the first word is written. How can policy and procedure writing tiptoe around the elephant in the room that everyone is trying to ignore?
As the number of persons employed by some U.S. organizations declined since the late 1980s, so have employment opportunities for Policies & Procedures (P&P) practitioners. During this period, the number of contractors and consultants has increased to meet the needs of newly changed organizations. A useful way for P&P practitioners to learn how they can provide contracting and consulting services is to understand three roles in leveraging such services: an extra pair of hands, expert, and collaborator.
Procedures are the meat and potatoes of technical writing. They help users get the job done. Follow these tips for writing clear and useful procedures that your users will appreciate.
The health care reform bill now under consideration in the House of Representatives includes a proposal that certain disclosures in insurance policies be made in “plain language.” Another piece of legislation now being considered by both houses of Congress would likewise require uniform and simplified coverage information, much like what’s required on nutritional labels. These are excellent proposals, but they do not go far enough. Plain-language disclosures of some policy information and consumer-friendly labels are no substitutes for making an entire policy readable.
Who should you contract to update an outdated policies and procedures manual–subject matter expert or a policy and procedure writer?
This study explores two cases of professional communication among U.S. and South American personnel in one multinational organizaton in Quito, Ecuador. The results suggest that implicit in U.S. rhetorics of professional communication are valorizations of writing as a mechanism of regulating behavior; of universalism and individual reference points as rhetorical strategies; and of common-law or precedent-setting logic as compositional and interpretive strategies. However, many South American personnel seem predisposed to think of personal interactions as a mechanism of regulating behavior; of particular and collective reference points as rhetorical strategies; and of civil law logic as compositional and interpretive strategies. Thus, widespread claims about the roles of writing to construct, mediate, or regulate organizational behavior need to be contextualized in the predominant rhetorical values of the organizational context.
The recent rash of high-profile computer viruses and attacks has further exposed troubling weaknesses in computer security. The media and even some computer security experts would have us believe that hackers are the primary culprits against whom individuals and organizations must protect themselves. This article provides guidance for technical communicators tasked with planning, creating, and implementing computer security policy for their organizations.