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

Technical Writing

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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.

 

451.
#38735

Let Them Come

The field of technical communication isn't what it used to be. It used to be if you could prove you could write and were reasonably intelligent you could get a job as a technical writer with little prior experience. (I should know, that’s how I got my first job as a technical writer.) Today, positions are fewer and farther between and there’s a lot of competition when a good position comes up.

Harvey, Peggy. Carolina Communique (2013). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing

452.
#34717

Let's Reinvent Technical Writing

More and more, I think it’s time to discard main approaches to tech writing and come up with new methodologies. The world and technology is changing so much that I think it’s time to start fresh. Just as sometimes when you’re working on a sentence and you tweak it and change it, but it’s still not quite right, and you finally just drop it and come up with something different. Perhaps it’s time to drop existing methodologies and develop something new instead of trying to tweak what’s there to fit what’s happening now. Perhaps the old methods no longer work.

Norris, Julie. 2moro Docs (2009). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Documentation

453.
#38946

Letter to a Young Writer

With the influx of summer interns, I've been considering the best way to train a budding technical writer. What essential principles must a new writer grasp to be successful? And how can I provide a valuable learning experience while getting my own work done? The Carolina Communique first came to mind. Some of the best writers and editors in our field have been providing sage advice for over a decade.

Loring, Sheila. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Advice

454.
#22157

Leveraging Complex Content for the Support Chain   (PDF)

The support chain is becoming increasingly important as we begin to understand the deep underlying economic trends of the last half-century.

Osnat, Rani. ComTech Services (2001). Articles>Content Management>Technical Writing

455.
#37300

Life as a Technical Author: A Case Study

Ginny became a technical author after teaching for some time. She now runs her own company and is also involved with the training of technical authors.

Prospects (2010). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>United Kingdom

456.
#31728

The Life of a Lone Writer

'Lone writers' — those people who work as their employer’s only staff writers — are a different breed, with their own unique set of professional and personal challenges. At the same time a blessing and a curse, the lone writer life offers flexibility, variety, and autonomy, along with feelings of stress, isolation, and burnout.

Potsus, Whitney Beth. Writing Assistance (2006). Careers>TC>Technical Writing

457.
#23391

Life: A User's Manual

With his back towards the reader, a bucket over his head, hands and feet tied up by SGML, CALS and company standards, and half choked by all the possibilities of the latest computer system the writer tries to produce manuals and instruction books for unsuspecting readers!

Forsslund, Lars. TC-FORUM (1998). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing

458.
#38582

Light My Fire: How I Became a Technical Writer

My career in technical writing began one late night in my parents' family room with a bottle Jack Daniels, The Doors' first album—yes, an “album,” not a CD or MP3—and two college engineer friends who spoke and wrote limited English.

Thompson, Greg. Carolina Communique (2012). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing

460.
#24073

Links for Technical Writers

Some website that might be of interest for technical writers.

Tech Writing Jobs. Resources>Directories>Writing>Technical Writing

461.
#26316

Linux Technical Writing Tools

An overview of Linux tools for technical writers.

Nesbitt, Scott. ComputorEdge (2005). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Software

462.
#22608

Listen, Observe, Speak

When you are a speaker, you communicate. When you are the audience, you communicate. As a member of the development team, the technical writer has to deal with hundreds of intelligent egos. There are the programmers who think only about solutions and technology (not about people and their emotions). A technical writer would definitely feel hurt, when developers talk down to him. Managers on the other hand are likely to have oodles of people skills and may not have technical skills. Therefore, they may talk nicely to you. Nevertheless, a technical writer may feel that managers do not appreciate his technical skills.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2002). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>Workplace

463.
#27705

The Lone Ranger as Technical Writing Program Administrator   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The popularity of technical writing and communication has caused many colleges and universities to scramble to hire qualified tenure-track faculty members. So-called lone ranger candidates are often lured to workplaces in which they are the sole technical writing faculty members by promises of autonomy and the ability to develop programs in ways, and at a pace, that would not necessarily be possible at other institutions. This article explores challenges faced by several such lone ranger faculty members and outlines survival strategies that may help lone rangers sustain and build their technical writing programs.

Sapp, David Alan. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2006). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing

464.
#30764

Low Bandwidth and the Highs of Web Design

The emergence of Internet was, and still is a fascinating thing to happen in technology firmament. The ease and the comforts of connecting to people, defying geographical boundaries, and getting a global audience for businesses were unparalleled -- first of its kind ever. So wonderful a thing has, unfortunately, got its share of woes -- the connection speed. The bandwidth of Internet connectivity was considerable at the time when it was entirely new to the world. The newness of the medium did not let it know to the excited lots of users and beneficiaries. Gradually, when people wished for more speed, they earnestly expected that things will turn favorable in the times ahead. Strategy is not something entirely applicable to chart out the direction of a corporation. Yeah, Your web design has to be strategized as well if you wish to serve your target audience in business friendly manner.

Azam, Rahbre. Amateur Writerz (2008). Articles>Web Design>Technical Writing>User Centered Design

465.
#18237

Low-Level Jobs to Avoid: Technical Writer

Grouping technical writers with grocery stock clerks and temps, this article mocks us all. Seemingly, from the position of someone who's done the job. For example, under 'manager says,' it quotes:

I want those four bullet points on letters of credit to be perfectly clear and concise. Spend a few more hours reworking them until they're exactly right.

Suck (1998). Humor>TC>Writing>Technical Writing

466.
#38571

The Magic of Syntactic Cues

Michelle Corbin addresses cases when brevity can impede clarity.

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

467.
#30306

Make Yourself More Than Just an "Entry-Level" Tech Writer

To make the most of limited opportunities, you have to distinguish yourself from the crowd of other technical writers who'll be vying for the same positions you're after. In other words, you have to go into that job market armed with more than just a bachelor's degree and some classroom writing samples. Following are some suggestions that can help you acquire some professional technical writing experience, broaden your skills and knowledge of the technical writing field, and get you over the entry-level hump.

Monahan, Jim. Boston Broadside (1991). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing

468.
#19896

Making a Big Business Out of Technical Writing   (PDF)

Leveraging on the success of my business, DocuStar, this paper describes some of the strategies I have used to grow my one-person freelance gig into a business employing over 65 employees on our own premises and servicing over 200 hi-tech companies per year. While the profit margin may not match that of the up-and-coming dotcoms, the needs of the market foretell a solid and ever-growing future within the technical documentation niche. With a strong commitment to hard work, an adventurous excitement for conquest and a paramount and obsessive commitment to quality and integrity, technical writing can certainly be grown into a big business venture.

Sher, Barbara J. STC Proceedings (2001). Careers>Management>Writing>Technical Writing

469.
#30076

Making a Big Business out of Technical Writing   (PDF)

Leveraging on the success of my business, DocuStar, this paper describes some of the strategies I have used to grow my one-person freelance gig into a business employing over 65 employees on our own premises and servicing over 200 hi-tech companies per year. While the profit margin may not match that of the up-and-coming dotcoms, the needs of the market foretell a solid and ever-growing future within the technical documentation niche. With a strong commitment to hard work, an adventurous excitement for conquest and a paramount and obsessive commitment to quality and integrity, technical writing can certainly be grown into a big business venture.

Sher, Barbara J. STC Proceedings (2001). Careers>Management>Writing>Technical Writing

470.
#31646

Making Connections: Teaching Writing to Engineers and Technical Writers in a Multicultural Environment   (PDF)   (members only)

Teaching writing to engineering students representing Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and American cultures can be daunting as their cultural perceptions of time, gender, source of authority, individualism and risk taking, affect learning styles. However, despite cultural differences, many International students have no difficulty with much of American instruction and, in some cases, perform better than American students. Their ability to adapt to American instruction appears to depend primarily on the educational goals of their cultures.

Boiarsky, Carolyn. IEEE PCS (2008). Articles>Education>Technical Writing>Engineering

471.
#23732

Making Documentation Accessible to Users With Disabilities   (PDF)

Good documentation takes into account the needs of people with disabilities. Such documentation is termed 'accessible' and provides support for the assistive technologies used by people with disabilities. For example, accessible documentation provides a text equivalent for each graphic element, such as a picture, flow diagram, or icon. This provision is necessary for users who rely on screen readers to read the documentation.

Chappell, Gail B. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Documentation>Accessibility>Technical Writing

472.
#37402

Making It as a Lone Writer

Lone writers have their work cut out for them. But the lack of processes and resources also gives them flexibility and freedom to work towards improving both, the documentation and their situation.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing

473.
#38276

Making Logical Technical Arguments

This PowerPoint file of 25 slides presents a thorough overview of the essentials of technical argument.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Technical Writing

474.
#24423

Making Product Information an Integral Part of the Development Process   (PDF)

Document inspections formalize the document review process and encourage the full participation of technical developers in the documentation development process. A document inspection consists of three parts: a briefing meeting, a desk review, and a recording meeting. At the briefing meeting, you state your requirements for the inspection process. During the desk review, the technical developers review your document. At the recording meeting, you review the comments made by the technical developers, and as a group decide on appropriate resolutions.

Hildebrand-Lund, Ruth. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Documentation>Workflow>Technical Writing

475.
#22259

Making Sense of Step-by-Step Procedures   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Procedural instructions that consist of only a sequence of steps will probably be executable, but nevertheless 'meaningless' to users of technical devices. This paper discusses three features that can make procedural instructions more meaningful: adding functional coordinating information, adding information about the use of the technical device in real life, and adding operational information about how the device works. The research literature supports the effectiveness of the first feature, but offers little evidence that real life elements enhance understanding of instructions. As for operational information, the research suggests that users are willing to read it, and that it contributes to better understanding and performance in the long term, but only if it is closely related to the procedure. As a conclusion, we propose a theoretical framework that assumes three levels of mental representation of instructions: syntactical, semantic, and situational.

Steehouder, Michael F., Joyce Karreman and Nicole Ummelen. ACM SIGDOC (2000). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric>Technical Writing

 
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