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.



My Quantum-Mechanical Resume

Are all of your personal user guides and other documentation organized into nice, neat little piles that you can easily access? Are all your computer files organized into logical folders? Do you back up your files on a regular basis? Have you documented all your important personal information and kept it in a safe place?

Brooke, Andrew. Blogspot (2010). Careers>TC>Technical Writing>Resumes


The Mystery Candidate Is Closer to Her Calling

Although it probably slid off your radar screen long ago, I remember very well Michael Harvey’s Q1 2007 Carolina Communiqué article, Is Technical Writing Your Calling? Because, you see, I was featured in his article. But you won’t find my name in that article, and you won’t find it here. I prefer to remain anonymous to protect the innocent — and the perhaps-less-than-innocent!

Anonymous. Carolina Communique (2010). Articles>Careers>Technical Writing


Myths About Technical Writing

When you start working with DITA, there are some things that you may feel you need for traditional reasons that you won't find in DITA. Before you try to modify or specialize DITA, it may be worthwhile to rethink some technical writing practices that are outdated and not recommended today.

Doyle, Bob. XML.org (2008). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>DITA


National and International Organizations for Technical Writers

This page is an international list of professional organisations, associations etc. for technical writers.

Peter Ring Consultants. Organizations>Writing>International>Technical Writing


A Natural Conversation about Technical Writing

An introduction to the new co-host, competition entries, an interesting entry from Microsoft, audio in instructions, screen demos, the STC annual conference, other technical communication tools, wikis, blogs, NetVibes, Get me the Geeks video, David Pogue, Walt Mossberg, and more.

Johnson, Tom H. and Heidi Hansen. Tech Writer Voices (2007). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Podcasts


Needless to Say

The needless repetition of words and the repeating of ideas is everywhere - in newspapers, books, magazines, e-mails, television, and even in conversation. They’re called redundancies and the English language is full of them. In fact, research shows that about 50 percent of English is redundant.

Dowling, Dave. Indus (2003). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Minimalism


New Challenge: Learning DITA. “I DITA know that!”

Tech writing has evolved into something quite different from what it was ten years ago when I first contemplated entering the field. It used to be that an English major and mastery of a style guide was enough to land a tech writing job, but these days employers are looking for technical expertise to go along with good writing and editing. I perused many of the job listings and found that knowledge of structured authoring and DITA are top preferences among employers in the technical writing field. So that’s why I set about to write a series of brief articles explaining what I’ve learned about DITA and how much I need to know in order to land a tech writing job.

Logan, Lisa. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Technology>Technical Writing>DITA


A New Look at Infinitives in Business and Technical Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article begins by arguing that the infinitive phrase has not been taken seriously in writing because writers have been too concerned with Bishop Robert Lowth's proscription against the split infinitive. However, careful examination of three types of technical prose (instructions, annual reports, and 'junk mail') reveals that more than one sentence in four contains an infinitive phrase. The article then argues that two linguistic theories do not adequately explain the overwhelming presence of infinitives in the three types of prose. The reason for the presence of infinitives seems to be that they fulfill several rhetorical purposes, including vigor, symmetry, emphasis, variety, economy, and depersonalization. Implications for writing and teaching are also discussed.

Myers, Marshall. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2002). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Technical Writing


New Manager's To-Do List   (PDF)

The transition to technical publications management can be difficult.

Williamson, Marty. ComTech Services (2002). Careers>Management>Writing>Technical Writing


New Medical Writers Survey   (PDF)

The most important skills or previous experience in securing present job: medical/scientific knowledge/understanding; writing skills/experience; ability to meet deadlines.

DeMilto, Lori. AMWA (2004). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>Biomedical


New Roles for Technical Writers: Web Masters "Oh My Gosh, Now I Own the Web Page!"   (PDF)

In my presentation, I share my experience as a new web master, focusing on how technical communicators are well-suited 10 becoming web masters. I discuss what to prepare for and how things change when you become the webmaster.

Gillihan, Dana L. STC Proceedings (1996). Careers>Web Design>Writing>Technical Writing


Nine Easy Steps to Longer Sentences

Are you tired of short, direct, and simple sentences that seem to take forever to fill up a page? Are you paid by the word? In either case you can benefit by increasing the number of words in your sentences and the bulk of your writing. And it's easy if you just follow nine simple steps, many of which you may already know and practice.

McGinty, Kathy. PlainLanguage.gov (2004). Humor>Writing>Technical Writing>Minimalism


A Non-Management Career Path for Technical Writers   (PDF)

Writing groups are challenged to find ways to attract and retain quality writers. After several years writing for a particular company, the job can become boring and stale. If writers are not interested in management, they may feel like they are trapped in dead-end jobs. To further their careers and keep the job interesting, they might move into development, usability, or QA. Or they might move on to another company. Either way, the result is the same—the writing group loses a talented writer. This paper discusses a solution—a technical career path. Our paper outlines the benefits of a technical career path and provides suggestions for proposing the idea to management and implementing this program.

Silvi, Deborah H., Susan Stotzer and Jamie West. STC Proceedings (2003). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing


Nonfiction University: Technical Writing

Included in this section are hypertexts composed by authors with explicit expertise in technical or scientific fields, or by technical writers who interpret technical or scientific topics for a nonspecialist audience. We include links to sites that explain the field of technical writing and its genres, along with references to aid technical writers.

George Mason University. Resources>Directories>Writing>Technical Writing


Not a Bad Life: Notes from Under the Desert

What's it like being a technical writer on a kibbutz? One obvious difference is the money. I do manage the business, but I don't own it - The Text Store is part of the kibbutz and, as such, is owned jointly by the kibbutz's 125 members. As a member of the kibbutz, I get a monthly allowance instead of a salary, so the money I earn from technical writing goes straight into the kibbutz's bank account. My only reward for landing a big contract is my co-workers' congratulations (we usually celebrate with ice cream).

Goldstein, Dan. TC-FORUM (2000). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Israel


Notes from the Other Side: The Strange Profession of Technical Writing

With writing as my 'marketable skill,' I crossed over the Rubicon from literature to technology. I became a technical writer for a data communications company. My job entailed creating software documentation—a category of discourse that I had not known existed.

Merrill, Lynn L. ADE Bulletin (1989). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Now That You've Got a Double Agent, What Do You Do With 'Em?   (PDF)

Having demonstrated the importance of acquiring a double agent for writing projects, we now want to explain the best ways to successfully indoctrinate a double agent. This paper will help you prepare for, orient, train, and become a mentor for a double agent to help make him or her an effective member of your writing team.

Fisher, Judith R., Karen L. Mobley and Michelle M. Wright. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Writing>Technical Editing>Collaboration


Review: The Nurnberg Funnel by John M. Carroll

In the Nurnberg Funnel: Designing Minimalist Instruction, John Carroll presents some helpful ideas based on some useful research on how the initial self-instruction (often called 'tutorials') should be developed and written.

Horn, Robert E. DITA Users (1999). Articles>Reviews>Technical Writing>Minimalism


Nurturing a New Writer

Technical communicators represent one of the most mobile groups of professionals I'm aware of, with some sources claiming that the average time between changing jobs is as low as four years. This means that many of us will soon find ourselves in the position of working with newcomers, whether permant staff or 'temps,' and this means we may face the problem of how to mentor or supervise someone new to our workplace. This article discusses how to work with someone who already has the basic training, but is nonetheless naive in the ways of your particular organization.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Geoff-Hart.com (1999). Careers>Mentoring>Writing>Technical Writing


Observational Data on Practical Experience and Conditions of Use of Written Instructions   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article presents a study investigating how people deal with procedural documents when using a new domestic appliance. An observational study was carried out in a quasi-experimental setting in order to outline the behavior of users encountering and using an appliance for the first time. The purpose of this observation was to identify two kinds of factors: on the one hand, factors inciting the use of procedural documents accompanying appliances, and on the other hand, design features facilitating the use of these documents when looking for specific information. User behavior and strategies were categorized using two kinds of indicators: 1) the number of times the documents were examined prior to contact with the appliance and/or while carrying out the prescribed tasks; and 2) the total time required to locate information in three different kinds of documents: Text only, Picture only, Text + Picture. Results show that 16 participants out of 30 spontaneously used the procedural documents before starting to use the appliance. However, during the session, 27 participants consulted the documents at least once. This consultation was determined by the task to carry out and the complexity level of the task. Otherwise, results show that time taken to locate information was shortest when instructions were displayed in text-and-picture format.

Ganier, Franck. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Case Studies


Occupational Employment and Wages: Technical Writers

Write technical materials, such as equipment manuals, appendices, or operating and maintenance instructions. May assist in layout work. Industries with the highest published employment and wages for this occupation are provided. For a list of all industries with employment in this occupation, see the Create Customized Tables function.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008). Careers>Salaries>Writing>Technical Writing


Occupational Employment and Wages: Technical Writers

Technical writers, also called technical communicators, put technical information into easily understandable language. They work primarily in information-technology-related industries, coordinating the development and dissemination of technical content for a variety of users; however, a growing number of technical communicators are using technical content to resolve business communications problems in a diversifying number of industries. Included in their products are operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions, and other documentation needed for online help and by technical support staff, consumers, and other users within the company or industry.

Occupational Employment and Wages: Technical Writers (2010). Careers>Salaries>Writing>Technical Writing


Offshoring: Strategies for Prevailing in the Global Marketplace for Technical Writing   (PDF)

Offshoring will not go away. Technical communicators can improve their prospects by taking offshoring into account as they envision their futures. After defining offshoring and outsourcing, this paper presents a brief history of offshoring and the myths associated with it, followed by a reporting of observations made by practitioners in the field. The conclusions of this report include recommended strategies for technical communicators to consider as they move forward in their careers.

Highby, Marie. STC Proceedings (2004). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing>Offshoring


Oh, Oh! The Job Ad Says OO   (PDF)

More and more job notices request some knowledge of object-oriented programming concepts. So, what are object-oriented programming concepts, why are they so special, and what documentation challenges do they create. This seminar answers your questions about the real meaning behind those job ads.

Gallagher, Susan W. STC Proceedings (1998). Careers>Writing>Programming>Technical Writing


On Collaboration

Openness is a faster route to better work. There are lots of ways of doing it, but I do think that as much as they pretend pure openness, successful OS projects all have hierarchy.

Mandiberg, Michael. Mandiberg.com (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Technical Writing>Open Source



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