definition

Edit, always edit.

edit

Found this on a friend’s Facebook page. It made me chuckle so I thought I’d share.

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Users’ Advocate: Blame the Author If Communication Fails? by Marc Baker

Well, it’s Monday and rather than writing something ourselves we came across this article on the Techwhirl site.

Users’ Advocate: Blame the Author If Communication Fails? by Marc Baker

What do you think?

Why am I a technical writer?

My earliest memories of dealing with writing or words would be my Grandfather Janes reading to me as a child in Escondido, California. He was also a mechanic who loved to fix cars and help people as often as he could. I would get to hang out in the garage and watch him take things apart and put them back together. In fact, the smell of grease and oil will make me tear up and think of him every time.

I have also had really good English teachers who always found a way to include poetry, essays, or literature into their lesson plans. I still have haiku’s that I wrote in first or second grade tucked away in a box. However, it just wasn’t the lesson plans, it was their excitement for what they were teaching and their ability to let me be me. Even when it meant compromising their time to help me pass their classes.

In high school, I knew deep inside that I wanted to be a  writer or work with English in some way. I also knew that I did not want to be a teacher. I could handle dealing with the children but I was not willing to deal with the parents. My counselor  at the time said that the only thing I could do with an English degree would be teaching. She tried to force me into other career paths that I knew I was unsuited for but the personality tests claimed I would be perfect for. This is when I gave up.

I became pregnant with my first child, met my husband, had our second child, got married, had our third child. I was a stay at home mom without a high school degree who quickly realized that I was going to have a problem when my kids got into high school. After all, why should they graduate when neither my husband or I.

I got my GED in 1999. I attended my first day of college and passed my driver’s license test on the same day in August of 2000. While in college, I found out about the technical communication program. I choose to major in English, with an emphasis in Professional and Technical Communication. It took me a little bit longer than most to graduate, nine years, but in 2009 I graduated. All three of my kids have graduated high school and one of them is currently in college.

In a way, my story has come full circle, I love the English word and like my Grandfather I like taking things a part, putting them back together, and helping other people do the same.

by Melinda Anderson

DITA

A Technical Writer has to stay up to date on the latest publishing software and trends within our field. We also have to be able to explain those software or trends to our employers or clients. I started to read about DITA about three years ago and I did not pay much attention. I was hired by YESCO Electronics as a technical writer. Their software choice was Adobe InDesign with their publishing choice being PDF. I was okay with this until I started documenting several different types of documentation that consisently required updating.

I started to read more about DITA and how efficient it could be. I tried to find a way to pitch DITA to the company. However, I could not find an article that really delved into the why should I care as a technical writer or why my employer should care; until now. “Why Should I Care About Dita? by Jacquie Samuals, published by TechWhirl, explains why technical writers should care about DITA. It also has some pointers to bring to management that would make any team look into DITA such as consistency and quality.

If you are a technical writer or a student in this field, I highly recommend that you read this article.

Technical Writing Defined

Here’s a definition of technical writing that I am going to use as part of a conference presentation:

A broad definition of technical writing: Any non-fiction writing of a technical or business nature. Sub-groups may include: Computer software and hardware documentation, process documentation, training materials, presentation materials, marketing materials, HR manuals, business plans, resumes and cover letters, engineering documents etc. A technical writer also translates technical jargon into English the rest of us can understand.

Alternate titles for a technical writer may include, copy writer, report specialist, documentation specialist.

Neil Dabb