A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

DMN Communications

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Accessing Information: Not Everyone Does it the Same Way

As some in our profession have come to realize, social media and use of the Web in general have changed (and are still changing) the way in which people access and use information.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>User Centered Design


Advice for the Novice Tech Writer: Be Like an Empty Cup

Technical writing is one of those jobs in which you're constantly learning. New tools, new techniques, new methodologies. No one knows it all. That's especially true for the new technical communicator. If you've graduated from a writing and rhetoric course or a technical writing course, you have a pretty good grounding in craft. But you're really only at the base of the mountain. There's still a lot to learn, and if you keep your eyes and ears and mind open then you can quickly pick up what you need to know.

DMN Communications (2008). Careers>Advice>Technical Writing


Advice for the Novice Tech Writer: Hold on to Your Passion

Passion, though, is a funny thing. It's easy to become passionate about something. But the fire of that passion can also be easily dimmed or extinguished, often due to circumstances that are beyond your control. Throughout your career, you'll definitely find your passion waxing and waning. But holding on to that passion and nurturing it will make you a better technical communicator.

DMN Communications (2008). Careers>Advice>Technical Writing


Advice for the Novice Tech Writer: Think Long-Term

So you've just started out as a technical communicator, or you've been on the job for a year or two. And you've decided that maybe, just maybe, technical communication is the career for you and you're in it for the long haul. Now what? Think about the future and how you want your career to develop.

DMN Communications (2008). Careers>Advice>Technical Writing>Blogs


Are We Giving Readers What They Want, in the Way They Want and Need It?

With all the talk about Web 2.0 and the attendant technologies, are readers actually being better served by documentation now than they were in the past?

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>User Centered Design


Baselining Documentation on a Wiki

The dynamic nature of wikis can cause a few headaches when you need to baseline documentation that's on a wiki to correspond with the release of your product. This blog post looks at some ways in which you can try baselining wiki content.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Wikis


Beat Writer’s Block with a Brain Dump

Ever find yourself unable to write, even though the words are in your head? Then try doing a brain dump to get those words working.

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


Becoming a Technical Communicator

Thinking of a career in technical communication? This article offers one point of view on what you need to know to be successful in the field.

DMN Communications (2008). Careers>TC>Technical Writing


The Blurring of the Lines Between the Web and the Desktop

The line between the desktop and the Web is slowly eroding. There’s more and more integration and interoperation between desktop and Web applications (not to mention mobile apps, too). And that has implications for technical writers.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2010). Articles>TC>Online>Help


Books Every Technical Writer Should Read

A look at six books that every technical communicator should consider reading. While these books aren't about technical writing, you can apply their lessons to the job.

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


Books, Documentation, and Perception

In a world of topic-based writing and online delivery of documentation, is the idea of the book even valid anymore? Maybe ...

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>TC


Building Presentations From the Ground Up, Part 2

I’ll discuss how Aaron and I get ready to give a presentation, how we actually deliver one, and what happens afterwards.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Presentations


Building Presentations, From the Ground Up, Part 1

A look at how two technical communicators plan and prepare presentations.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Presentations>Planning


Businesses not as Keen on Blogs and Wikis? We Had a Hunch

Despite all the excitement in the technical communications community over Web 2.0 technologies like wikis and blogs, it looks like companies are still reluctant to tie the knot for a variety of reasons.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>TC>Wikis>Blogs


Can Lightweight Markup Languages Be Used for Documentation?

A lightweight markup language uses syntax that is similar to wiki syntax -- keyboard characters are used to define formatting. This blog post argues that if your documentation needs are simple, and you have a low or non-existent budget, then a lightweight markup language might be worth investigating.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Documentation>Programming>Wikis


Change is Gonna Come

There's a shift happening in the way in which documentation is produced. We’ve all seen the beginning of it: the growing volume of what’s called (among other things) user generated or crowdsourced documentation. That trend is growing. And while a number of people in our profession are still resistant to the idea, it’s only a matter of time before users are our main partners in creating documentation.

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


Change Your Writing Style to Make Documentation More Usable and User-Friendly

When the subjects of usability and user friendliness in relation to documentation are broached, writing isn’t often the first thing that comes to mind. But it should be.

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


Choosing an XML Schema

DocBook and DITA both have their places. They're both excellent for single sourcing. DocBook is better for what I call monolithic single sourcing, while DITA is better suited for discrete single sourcing.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Information Design>DocBook>DITA


The Cloud and the Freelance Technical Communicator

A look at some of the Web-based applications that one freelance technical communicator uses and finds indispensable.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Careers>Freelance>TC>Cloud Computing


The Cloud and the Freelance Technical Communicator

A look at some Web-based applications that freelance technical communicators might find useful.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Careers>Freelance>TC>Cloud Computing


The Cloud, Mobile, and Their Impact on Technical Communication

The way in which we compute has been changing over the last three or four years. In fact, I think I can safely say that what many people are doing now isn’t computing in the traditional sense of the word. And this move is going to have an effect on technical communication.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>Documentation>Content Management>Cloud Computing


Communications from DMN

A weekly podcast for technical writers by a company called DMN Communications.

Davis, Aaron and Scott Nesbitt. DMN Communications. Resources>TC>Documentation>Podcasts


Consistent Terminology is Crucial

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.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2011). Articles>TC>Technical Writing>Controlled Vocabulary


Content Strategy for Technical Communicators: What Happens to my Doc Plan?

While there’s still discussion about how best to define content strategy, I think that most everyone agrees on a couple of key points: A content strategy is, well, a strategy. A strategy, by definition, provides an overarching framework within which specific actions can be planned and executed. A strategy gives purpose to every action, but a strategy is more than just the sum of the actions. It’s not tactical: for example, it doesn’t dictate things like how a style sheet should be coded (although it might contain broad guidelines for how the styles should look). A content strategy should be broad enough to encompass all kinds of content: content from all over the organization, as well as (increasingly) from the user community; and content that can be distributed in a variety of formats.

Kunz, Lawrence D. Communications from DMN (2010). Articles>Documentation>Content Strategy>Planning


Contributing to Wikis: A Useful Activity for Novice Tech Writers?

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.

Davidovic, Milan. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>TC>Technical Writing>Wikis



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