Notice one of the key terms are Training & Development that requires documentation of some form or another.
Do you have any training horror stories as a writer or as an employee?
My business partner, Neil Dabb has some excellent advice for those of us who self-publish in his article Formatting: The Other Critique. This advice can also be applied to the Professional and Technical Communication field; especially, when your business or company does not have a writer or editor on staff.
Other advice, check your photographs. For instance, if your work instructions state that safety guards have to be used on a machine that has a possibility of physical injury to employees, the picture or image should show the safety guard being used.
Images should also correlate to the step. In most cases, if you have five steps there should be five pictures. Not five steps on page 1 and an image on page 3 that may or may not show the employee what they are supposed to be doing.
If your employee manual states that employees should not wear jewelry when operating equipment, then the image should reflect that standard. In other words, your documentation should correlate on every level to your company, your training, your branding, and your marketing.
This will create a professional and educated work force that is positive about their job which leads to a better quality of product for your business.
By Melinda Anderson
We agree with Mr. Davies, employes perform better when trained and the company does better with trained employees.
Online Mentoring. A great article with some advice for individuals considering the technical writing field.
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.
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
I am starting to write the company goals for DragonTech Writing and have realized that we need a mission statement also known as a 60 second commercial. This statement needs to say who we are, what we offer, and tie into our company goals. Here is my first attempt at a mission statement:
DragonTech Writing is a contract technical writing service that provides documentation in the following areas software, process, business, marketing, and portfolios (resumes/cover letters) for companies and individuals. Our mission is to provide companies and individuals with documents that are clear, concise, and useable for their customers, clients, or perspective employers.
I think that sums it up for now. I am sure there is something I can add or take away, any thoughts?
For some writers the act of re-writing is the bane of their existence. For most of us, it is an absolute necessity. There are very few writers that can get away without some re-writing, and while the process of re-writing can be an adventure, for some of us, this is not the case. Here are a couple hints that may make the re-writing process more effective, and perhaps a bit less painful. These tips are given from the point of view of a fiction writer, but they should help the non-fiction writer as well.
The first tip, read your story backwards. If you have a hard copy, start from the last page and read one page at a time till you get back to the front. If you are working on the computer, read one screen at a time beginning at the end and moving toward the beginning.
When reading from the beginning to the end of a story it is easy to get involved in the story and miss grammar and spelling errors (sorry folks spell check is far from perfect). It is also easy to miss tense and voice issues such as passive verses active voice, past or present tense. Reading a story from the back to the front will aid writers in finding these types of issues.
The second tip, writing is like a fine wine, allow your story to age (put it away for a while). Allowing your writing to age gives the writer time to forget how great the words sounded when they were first put on paper (or into the computer). This helps the writer ensure that the words still sound good when the writer becomes the reader. It also allows the writer to find elements crucial to the story that never made it onto the page and fill them in. Also, like reading your story backwards, forgetting can aid the writer in seeing grammar, spelling and tense or voice issues. Giving your story time to age gives the writer a fresh perspective on the story allowing them to see flaws in the plot that may have slipped past them the first time.
How long a piece needs to age depends on the writer, and the piece. Some pieces require only a few days while other pieces may require months or years to reach their prime. Some writers may use this as an excuse to procrastinate, taking time off from their writing, but working on other projects during the aging process keeps the mind functioning and may allow the writer to discover even better ways of expressing the ideas in the story that is aging. Put the piece away, but not the pen!
The rewriting process is one that usually requires patience. Some writers consider it the bane of their existence. While reading the story backwards is time consuming it will reveal a different set of issues to the writer than reading the story start to finish. Likewise the aging process is time consuming, but the act of forgetting may not be a bad thing in this case. My experience has been that both processes can yield a much cleaner piece of writing when used properly and consistently.
By Neil Dabb