This podcast is a recording of a presentation I gave to students at the Missouri State University technical writing conference on April 23, 2010. With this presentation, because the audience was students, I focused mainly on the changing roles technical communicators are playing. My basic premise is that many IT environments have an assumption that “anyone can write.” Because of this assumption, technical writers are changing their roles, becoming hybrids with additional skill sets, or moving beyond the basics of writing in order to provide both value and find fulfillment.
This session will help participants understand how to write and submit a manuscript for publication in Technical Communication. It covers the types of articles the journal publishes, its audience, and suggestions for choosing topics, doing research, and preparing a manuscript.
While all words on the page should be necessary, not every word carries the same importance. Yet words compete for attention, and depending on what they mean to readers, one word may make a greater impression than another. As writers, we must express what’s important with bright words. We must tone down what’s not important and express them with dull words. We must avoid snags, words that distract, confuse, or interfere in any way with the smooth transfer of information.
The Books by Users program, SAS Institute’s acquisitions program, serves a twofold purpose: helping SAS software users with book ideas turn their ideas into high-quality books about the SAS System; Providing Users with books about SAS Software to supplement primary documentation produced by in-house writers. This paper gives an overview of the Books by Users program and examines its operations and growth over the past three years. It offers tips both for companies building acquisitions programs and for authors hoping to interest publishers in their book ideas.
To learn software, passive users prefer to have concepts and procedures clearly spelled out for them, while active learners prefer experimenting with the program. When designing a manual, writers should keep both types of users in mind. Writers at WordPerfect are currently experimenting with minimalist design models that encourage active learning. One such model is an “On Your Own” section which guides users through creating a document. Another model is a visually oriented “Applications” section which provides tips on how to create a document.
Organizational standards are often just a set of documents put into place for auditors or regulatory bodies. In such instances, the standards usually do not reflect current practices, which are passed along by word-of-mouth. Unfortunately, even if the information is up-to-date, it may not be easily retrievable by the person in immediate need of it. In a hospital setting, this situation can be extremely costly. It can also provide immense opportunities for the technical communicator to become a vital part of a cross-functional team.
Several weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Brigham Young University-Idaho and the presentation I gave there titled “Debunking the Boredom Myth of Technical Writing.” This podcast is a recording of my presentation.
The levels of edit concept can be a valuable editorial tool, especially to clarify for staff what editors do with documents. However focusing on degrees of edit (light, medium, and heavy) can simplify decisions about editorial work on a document. Dividing heavy edits into macro edits and micro edits can clarify what editors do in editing a document thoroughly. This presentation simplifies the editorial process by examining the three different degrees of edit and establishing the aims and procedures for macro and micro editing.
This presentation reviews the purposes of APA documentation, as well as methods for effectively using parenthetical citations and a reference page. This presentation is ideal for the beginning of a research unit in a science course or any assignment that requires APA documentation.
This paper presents the preliminary findings from a study that sought to determine whether Japanese and American readers’ comprehension of expository text is similarly affected by text organization. Results are presented and discussed with regard to their implications for technical communicators.
Experts in the field have defined the essential criteria of ethical behavior in a number of fields. This presentation attempts to translate those criteria to the typical working environment of full-time writers. It examines these criteria in terms of the skills, task, and responsibilities of those individuals who create the documentation and directives by which America does its work.
The role of the writer is evolving as companies and teams evolve in what they produce and how they produce it. Web products demand the involvement of design-savvy writers, and GUI products in general demand writers ready to work within a design process. The writer not knowledgeable in design or design processes will not be ready to design in today’s software development environment. This paper examines one case study of writers’ involvement in the development of a GUI product and shows through the case study and through helpful tips how today’s writers can make a difference in product design.
Describes the most challenging aspect of creating slides for an oral presentation. Presents two principles for creating informative and persuasive graphics. Explains how to use drawing tools to communicate the schema of the slide and to emphasize important portions of the images.
Although an index is one of the most important sections of a document, it's also one of the most misunderstood. Many people don kknow what an index is or mistake itfor the table of contents. For those casons, companies often don ‘tinclude indexes in their documentation. Will-written indexes increase productivity by helping employees$nd information faster This workshop provides the basic techniques of cteating an index your audience can use to find the information they need. lbu ’11have time to prepatv an index fmm a section of a document cun-ently in use by a major corporation.
This paper discusses the author’s experience of teaching an English as a Second Language (ESL) technical writing class. The class consisted of students from several European and Asian countries who work for the same company as the author. The class began as an email “correspondence” class, but the author developed a web page which served as a “home” for the class to meet. As with most good classes, the teacher ended up learning as much or more than the students. This paper shares some of what the author learned from teaching.
Most of us view government regulations negatively. Yet they provide a multitude of opportunities for technical writers. What are these opportunities? Where are they? How can you take advantage of them? A chance opportunity knocked on the author's door. Her experience can guide you to find and knock on opportunity's door.
Technical Writing in India has experienced explosive growth in business volumes as a result of outsourcing. 75 writers based in India are registered with the STC. Estimated 2,500- to 3,000-strong workforce.
Are you afraid to hire an entry-level writer? Are you asking yourself questions like: Will an entry-level writer take up too much of my time? Will she be able to work independently? Will she succeed in this organization? Is a new writer worth the risk?
In this paper I describe my experience in taking over the management of an ongoing, complex, constantly changing, multiauthored document. I offer the following rules: 1. Learn all you can about the document before you make any changes. 2. Clean up the old document. 3. Work within the already existing system. 4. Keep records. 5. Change as little as possible.
This presentation describes the standard structure of a lab report and provides a methodology for successfully producing such a report. It includes a description of the generic structure of a report and variations on this theme.
Technical writers can increase their value by having a technical base along with their communication skills. The technical base provides a way to recognize and appreciate d@erent perspectives in an industry collaboration. Misunderstanding or ignorance of differing perspectives can result in serious interpersonal and corporation issues that affect the final product. This presentation describes some of the obstacles encountered by a new technical writer on a software documentation teatn. These obstacles are examined in Iight of technical writing research in an effort to identify possible classroom strategies that might prevent or ease tensions that arise between collaborators with different backgrounds.
Many communication trainers adopt a “rules” approach, giving participants the “right” answers for writing problems. Our alternative approach focuses on individual participants’ writing contexts. In our writing workshops for university personnel, we train participants to develop and keep style guides. Individualized style guides help participants identify the conventions common in their particular organizations and help them maintain consistency between and within documents. Participants also benefit by developing a rhetorical approach to writing which builds their confidence and ability to respond to future writing situations on the job.
In this seminar we’ll explore the basic concepts in the grammar and syntax of kinetic sight-and-sound media: film, video, and multimedia (motion media). We’ll not discuss how to write scipts. Rather we’ll concentrate on learning how to encode information into kinetic visual images using filmic design techniques. Throughout this seminar we’ll view and critique award-wining films and videos, and explore a multimedia flowchart to see how others have applied such filmic techniques to solve specific communication problems.
While gathering information for a documentation project, what challenges do we have to overcome? A presentation of data based on responses to an online survey.