Technical Writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of formal writing and business communication, used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Good technical writing clarifies technical jargon; that is, it presents useful information that is clear and easy to understand for the intended audience.
David Ogilvy was an advertising genius who distilled his successful concepts and techniques into a bestselling book I've just finished reading, called "Confessions of an Advertising Man". I wanted to read his book, because I often find it useful to look at other professions and ask whether their ideas could be applied to the world of technical authoring.
This article discusses the rise of conservation writing as a new field of technical communication, and it offers pedagogical strategies for teaching conservation writing and building curricula. Conservation writing is an umbrella term for a range of writing about ecology, biology, the outdoors, and environmental policies and ethics. It places the natural world at the center of readers' attention, often viewing sustainability as a core value. A course or curriculum in this kind of writing would likely need to help students master a variety of genres, while providing a working knowledge in environmental law, ethics, and politics.
As a technical writer, every decision you make is influenced by several discrete things, considerations for either the audience of the information, the process you’ll need to follow to collate and verify the information, and so on. Every decision requires such considerations but is it possible to model these?
If you have a group of stressed out and overworked technical writers and need to add to your staff, hiring the right technical writer can be a challenge. The author provides some tips on the hiring and interview process and what you might look for in exceptional technical writing candidates that will best fill the needs of your group of technical writers.
Having consistent terminology, and using that terminology consistently, is crucial. Terminology that isn’t consistent, and which isn’t used consistently, can cause more than just a little confusion. And documentation that doesn’t use that terminology consistently can cause more problems than it clears up. Not only with customers, but within your company and project as well.
The Consortium for the Study of Engineering Communication consists of individual engineering communication scholars from six professional organizations and ten universities who are interested in research relating to the Acreditation Board for Engineering and Technology's Engineering Criteria 2000, expecially EC3(g): 'the ability to communicate effectively.' They are working together on research and development projects to identify best communication practices of successful engineers in industry and ways of assessing students' communication performances. Collaboration with others concerned with engineering communication and assessment is welcome. Please see the list of members or the list of organizations represented for further information or contact us.
A Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. I think that professional writers and technical writers should consider a move towards this role. We already search for and find the best content, sift through loads of content, discard poor content, and publish the most worthy content whenever a software release goes out. This description also sounds like something a content strategist would do as part of their analysis of the content.
We've all visited poorly organized websites that make finding what we need a chore. But have you ever thought your library of documents could use the same kind of organizational help? This is where having a content strategy can make a world of difference. Authors Sarah O'Keefe and Alan Pringle of Scriptorium Publishing brought their research and experience together so that the meaning of "content strategy" can be understood by those who need it most.
To teach students how to write for the workplace and other professional contexts, technical writing teachers often assign writing tasks that reflect real-life communication contexts, a teaching approach that is grounded in the field's contextualized understanding of genre. This article argues to fully embrace contextualized literacy and better teach workplace writing, technical writing teachers also need to contextualize how they assess student writing. To this end, this article examines some of workplaces' best assessment practices and critically integrates them into an introductory technical writing classroom through a method called student-centered assessment instruments. This method engages students, as workplaces engage employees, in the assessment process to identify local requirements for writing tasks. Aligned with theory and practice, this method is not only an effective classroom assessment method, but becomes an integrated part of students' genre-learning process within and beyond the classroom.
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.
Because I am working at this job through a contract, rather than as a regular employee, there are some situations unique to my position. In the technical writing industry, many writers work on a contract basis through an agency. This type of employment is called contracting, although you may also hear it called consulting. I prefer the term contracting because I associate consultants with people whose job is to advise a company on one issue or another. That may or may not describe a particular technical writing assignment.
In this post, technical writer Milan Davidovic that contributing to wikis can help novices build skills and a portfolio. And he offers a simple roadmap for doing that effectively.
The documentation used in manuals and other technical writing worldwide is predominantly created in English. Though much discussion has been devoted to it in academia and elsewhere for years, technical English continues to be written in a way that is difficult for many people to understand.
In a classic 1977 experiment, researchers asked experts to evaluate a technical manuscript. Except for the results section, all versions of the paper were identical. Reviewers not only gave the paper higher marks when it confirmed their previous views on a technical issue in their field, they were more apt to detect an inadvertent typo in the manuscript when the results contradicted their pre-existing beliefs. Studies have confirmed it again and again: We easily accept results we like and nitpick the evidence that we don’t.
Pay attention to the legal requirements and translatability issues, not only in your own documents, but in the documents of other groups like marketing and engineering. It's an area where we add value.
Technical writers (technical authors) produce technical literature such as standard operating procedures (SOP), user guides, reference manuals and white papers. Copywriters produce advertising copy and publicity copy (also known as marketing communications or marcomms). Typically, that means product brochures, poster advertisements, advertorials, leaflets, and mailshots.
While a lot of effort is spent on designing an effective structure of the course, individual memory is seemingly the more untouched and somehow neglected aspect of our efforts to develop effective learning solutions. There is a need to add a psychological perspective of memory and retention/recollection to the way we design learning solutions.
While Linux lacks standard Windows tools such as FrameMaker, RoboHelp, and WebWorks Publisher, it's still a viable environment for technical writers. Linux users can take advantage of a number of documentation tools, including both free or open source software (FOSS) and proprietary software. All of them give technical writers the ability to author and publish professional documentation.
When you are writing content in Flare, you may decide that you want to re-use some content that you previously added to another topic. We’ve discussed before how the best way to do this is to use a snippet, which essentially is a really long, formatted variable. To do this in Flare, you create a new snippet, then you locate the text you want to re-use, and copy the text out of that topic and paste it into the snippet. Then you replace the text in the original topic with the snippet, then insert the snippet into the new location.
It's hard to look at a page of text and try to decide where to divide things to create individual topics. That "bottom up" approach is kind of pointless, in fact. There are better ways.
How exciting is technical writing, really?” Every once in a while, discussions in blogs or at conferences turn to that question. How technical writing is not really a calling or maybe even boring. Technical writing is my creative passion. I don’t have a recipe, but I want to share my excitement. Maybe it resonates with you, and maybe you’ll see technical writing in a different way.