documentation

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?

Three Tips to Fight the Blank Page Effect

PHD Comics: Writing

You have a report to write for work, an essay for school, or the perfect novel that will make you rich and famous. You know your audience, you know your topic, you have done your research. You think this is going to be the easiest thing I have ever written. You sit down at your desk, fire up the computer, and open your preferred program for writing. There it is the blank page.

You stare at it, five minutes go by. You begin to type, shake your head, and delete the thought that had  just formed. You reread your notes or browse through your research. You look at your computer but the blank page is still there. Another five minutes go by. You decide to get a drink, go for walk, do some more research but the blank page is still there when you get back.

How do you fight the blank page effect? Do you really want the secrets? Do you really want to know? Here are my three tips:

First, just type or write something that is relevant to your topic. Don’t delete it just keep going until you find your inner muse that will guide you through the document. Believe me once you start the words will flow.

Second, have a co-worker, friend, or professor look it over once it is finished to get some advice. There is a rhythm to words that if done correctly brings excitement and curiosity to the dullest of topics. However, if the sentence structure or punctuation is in correct, the reader is jolted out of the topic and quickly loses interest. Having someone read your document and just have them mark the places that jolt their eyes will help you correct your document and make you a better writer.

Third, be your self. If you are a class clown don’t try to come across as an academic. If you are an academic don’t try to come across as a class clown. Each of us has our own life experiences, therefore, each of us have our own voices when we write. This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you, however, it is one of most difficult to achieve. Writing is a very personal experience, it lets people see a side of you that normally does not show. For me, its like, I forgot to put a bra on before going to work. I am still covered but I feel like everyone is staring and judging me. However, if you can find and use your inner voice, you will be one hell of a good writer.

By Melinda Anderson

Cake Left Out In Break Room With No Instructions

Here is an example of bad technical writing, Cake Left Out in Break Room With No Instructions. Yes, we realize it is a piece of satire written by the Onion.

However, think about it. What if a cake had appeared in the break room with nothing written on it, no one knowing why it was there, or who it was for, there would some serious confusion.

Now imagine, that cake is software with no instructions, a pretty resume with no structure, a business or marketing plan with no goals, a marketing flier with two little or too much information, an employee manual that hasn’t been updated. Not so funny now.

Instructions no matter what they are pertain to need to be clear and concise; even if it just a cake sitting in the break room.