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Formatting: The Other Critique by Neil Dabb

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

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.