A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Extreme documentation is an agile methodology for developing documentation in small to medium-sized teams in the face of vague or rapidly changing requirements.



A Documentation Database for Managing Time and Costs   (PDF)

Keeping track of a technical writing team’s time can be a tedious task, especially when that time has to be charged to various internal departments. Using Lotus Notes™ (Lotus Development Corporation and Iris Associates, Inc.), we developed a relational database to track this information. This database uses a single form for all documentation status inputs. Then it summarizes the data in a variety of view. Separate forms track SEI statistics and simplify department employee time administration.

Lang, Darice and Debra Ricks. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Project Management


The Documentation Dilemma

With limited staff, a rapidly changing IT environment, and increasing complexity, my own inflexible documentation practices had to be updated to reflect more dynamic environments.

Dickerson, Chad. InfoWorld (2004). Articles>Documentation>Agile>Extreme Documentation


The Documentation Elephant

As technical communicators grapple with the changing processes and tools within which they work, we are seeing a gradual but dramatic evolution of technical writers into content developers.

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


The Documentation Elephant

As technical writers, we work more online than ever before. We are beginning to work with documentation in a new way, so that we can repurpose content and free it from the restrictions imposed by any particular delivery mechanism. We no longer solely create paper-publishable documents. We do not, as yet, have a good word for what we do; we do not have a single word or phrase that summarizes the effort or the deliverables. Nor can we use any single existing lexicon because the concepts are new. This difficulty is a natural consequence of the inter-networked world in which we work, where information is delivered multiple ways for diverse audiences. But let us look at the phrases currently growing in popular usage that refer to this effort.

Albing, Bill, Michelle Corbin, and Ann-Marie Grissino. Carolina Communique (2004). Articles>Documentation>Online


Documentation for a Technical Audience   (PDF)

Liebhaber discusses the benefits of system documentation--documentation written for an audience of technical people who solve support problems or modify components to the software.

Liebhaber, Karen Powers. Intercom (2002). Articles>Documentation


Documentation for Consumer Products: Give it a Chance

Documentation for consumer products gets a bad rap. Often, it's deserved. But you can't paint all documentation with the same brush. This post looks at the good and the bad in consumer documentation, and at the elements which can make that documentation good.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing


Documentation for Global Markets: Some Practical Considerations   (PDF)

This panel will discuss the development of documentation for global markets. Many practical tips will be offered for discussion.

Bolton, David, Ralph F. Calistro and Laurel R. Simmons. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Documentation>International


Documentation for Sarbanes-Oxley

In the financial end of business, more work is being done with documentation, thanks to Sarbanes-Oxley and financial accountability.

KeyContent.org (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Documentation


Documentation Honesty and Poor User Interfaces — An Ethical Dilemma?

We’ve all run in to situations where we have to document poor user interfaces. As much as we complain and suggest improvements, the project manager decides to go ahead with the interface as is because redesigning it is too costly. When I run into these situations, rather than insult the interface in straightforward talk in the documentation, I euphemize the language (against my better desires) in order to maintain the consistency of the company voice. It just doesn’t sound right to be so frank.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2008). Articles>Documentation>Ethics


Documentation is a Profit Center!

Everyone knows that documentation is a cost center, and that downsizing writers and moving documentation online save money. Unfortunately for 'everyone', it's trivial to demonstrate that documentation is actually a profit center--and we don't even have to wrassle with messy stuff like customer satisfaction to prove it.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (2000). Articles>Documentation>Workplace


Documentation Methods for AACSB Learning Assurances   (PDF)

In 2003, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) redefined their accreditation and reaffirmation standards to move from a traditional outcome-based system to a systematic process-based review. Documentation is required to assure student learning in several core areas, including communication. This paper outlines the data collection procedures and documentation methods used to document one university’s business communication learning assurances.

Gueldenzoph, Lisa E. Association for Business Communication (2008). Articles>Documentation>Education>Business Communication


Documentation Needs Usability Testing, Too

All documentation can stand some usability testing. We technical communicators like to claim that we’re user focused and user advocates. I like to believe that myself. However, sometimes we can be more like developers than we want to admit.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>Documentation>Usability>Testing


Documentation on CD-ROM: Strategies for a Successful Implementation   (PDF)

Producing documentation on CD-ROM can be extremely beneficial to users and can also save your company a lot of money over hard copy costs. To assure a successful roll-out of your CD product, it is critical to consider the involvement of key departments in your company as you plan the implementation in your user community. The two processes are closely related, and a well-integrated internal plan will help assure a successful introduction to your customers.

Florsheim, Stewart J. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Documentation>Online


Documentation Quality Checklist

Basic checklist for assessing and improving the quality of technical documentation, especially software documentation such as user manuals, online help files, interactive demos and tutorials.

Achtelig, Marc. indoition engineering (2006). Articles>Documentation>Quality>Documentation


Documentation Quality Metrics

To implement any continuous improvement process, you have to measure your progress. This is where metrics come in. Have you been struggling to create a process for measuring your technical documentation? If so, this article provides the information you need to get started.

Cohen, Jules. Carolina Communique (2004). Articles>Documentation>Assessment


Documentation Research, Anyone? Your Opinion, Please

I’m curious about the value of adding all the font changes in user instructions: Is is valuable, or is it a distraction to users? What do you think? Access the poll and provide your answers. I promise to post the results.

Technical Communication Topics (2008). Articles>Documentation>Typography>Surveys


The Documentation Scene

Funny thing, documentation. Ought to be easy enough, surely? So why the disappointing results? What IS the elusive spark which distinguishes the professional author from others who put their hand to the pen (keyboard)?

Mobbs, John. ISTC (2002). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing


Documentation Solutions for Complex Tools: Task-Based Design at the Cross Roads   (PDF)

For most of the technical writing community, task-based documentation has become the panacea for presentation of end-product document (in any of its myriad forms including traditional linear manuals and online help). We believe, however, that applying this method to a complex tool, (for example, a software tool without a Graphical User Interface), challenges the task-based approach.

Swallow, Lisa and Matt Laney. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing


Documentation Sprawl, or What Happens When There's No Documentation Plan

The documentation strategy over the course of some development projects has, unfortunately, resembled a building with several add-ons rather than a single, unified structure—wings added, walls moved, different materials used. Where I live, no one builds like this, except in residential neighborhoods and on college campuses. This approach doesn’t exactly make for a consistent experience for users. It’s what I’d call documentation sprawl.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>Documentation>Planning>Technical Writing


Documentation Team Leadership in the 1990s   (PDF)

In the 1990s, product life cycles are short, technology is ever-advancing, work environments are fast-paced, and there is an ongoing agenda to cut costs. This environment requires documentation teams to accomplish more faster with fewer personnel resources These requirements have redefined the roles and responsibilities of technical writers and documentation team leaders. Leadership skills have become critical to the overall success of documentation teams Critical leadership skills include appropriately implementing situational leadership, working effectively with people who have diverse working and social styles, and participating in ongoing role negotiations.

Muench, Barbara S. STC Proceedings (1995). Careers>Documentation>Management


Documentation through the Discovery Process   (PDF)

Kloss describes a process of composing documentation that requires the writer's involvement at every phase of product development.

Kloss, Marilyn B. Intercom (2002). Articles>Documentation>Style Guides


Documentation Through the Discovery Process   (PDF)

The technical writers at a software company learn about the software by gathering information and running the software themselves.

Kloss, Marilyn B. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Documentation>Interviewing


Documentation Usability: A Few Things I’ve Learned from Watching Users

Even though your customers may not read manuals, your tech support team probably does, which means someone is reading the manuals and using them to help others. But if your users find it easier to call someone, wait on hold for an agent, and then ask the agent a question rather than find the answer in the help, maybe your help materials aren’t very usable. Maybe increasing the usability of your company’s documentation could alleviate the need users feel to seek answers from another source.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Documentation>Usability>User Centered Design


Documentation, Quick and Dirty

what can you do if you don’t have a technical writer or the standard tools? You just might have to go quick and dirty. Quick and dirty documentation is a band aid, no doubt about it. But it’s better than nothing. This article presents some thoughts about ways to deliver documentation quickly and cheaply.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing


Documentation: Give It Up; It Won't Happen

Is providing Linux documentation an insurmountable task? I'm starting to think so. The major technical book publishers have dropped their efforts to recruit authors and publish sysadmin books. Instead, they have started focusing most of their attention on programming. Who can blame them.

Adelstein, Tom. Linux Journal (2007). Articles>Documentation>Operating Systems>Linux



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