Technical Communication

Why Was Dragon Tech Writing Created?

There are several various different stories that led to the creation of Dragon Tech Writing but I will stick with the most recent. After I graduated in 2009, I could not find a job in my field locally. I had no desire to uproot my family and start over in another bigger city where I could have had a job. Talk about claustrophobia. After two years, I was finally able to get a job at YESCO Electronics that I loved.

It was a great position with people that I enjoyed working with, even with all the ups and downs. Unfortunately, they were having some growing pains. I made it past the first cut but not the second cut. After 2 years, I was back in the job market with a little experience and realized that the technical communication field, unless you were in a major city, was dying.

Business were focused on surviving the new economic down slide and not on growth or improvement. If they were hiring technical writers or communicators, it was part time, temporary, or contract based. While talking with my husband, I burst out and said, “Maybe, I should just start a technical writing business.”  He said, “Maybe you should.” I realized that I would not be able to create this company on my own.

I am in a stitching group that meets once a week at Embroidery Central. Carrie also attends and her husband is also a technical writer so I approached her with the idea. She talked to her husband and she arranged for us to met. We both liked each other immediately and we decided to start this business.

A year has passed and we have had one client, thank you Cirra Systems. Whenever we introduce ourselves we are constantly asked, “What is technical writing?” We are the faces of our business but it also seems we are the faces of our chosen field. We are still defining our business and its role in our community but I guarantee you, we are having a lot of fun.

by Melinda Anderson

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PDF, RTF, TXT, DOC, DOCW…. Which file extension do I use?

There are several different word processors out there, each has advantages and disadvantages. They  each use different file tags and will access some of the universal tags differently. This is another area that Technical
Writers should be familiar with in order to survive.

A company will likely send a draft of what they want converted/translated/polished in a format using their preferred word processor. Yes, Word is popular, but there are still diehard Open Office, Wordperfect, and other word processor users out there and the extension (the three letters behind the dot that follows the file name) will be different for each.

Many word processors will convert files from other word processors to their format but the results may or may not be acceptable. PDF is another extension that is universal but typically information is lost and it is difficult to edit a PDF file.

There are two solutions to this dilemma. First, make sure that you have a working copy of every word processor used by any customer. This is the best solution but obviously this is impractical for most writers. The next best solution is to request that customers send files with a .rtf extension. Most word processors have a save as function and will allow users to send files with an RTF extension. The advantage is that RTF files can be opened by most other word processors. They can also be easily edited and saved into the same format without losing graphics and other information.

By Neil Dabb