training

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

Mission Statement

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?

By

Melinda Anderson

Painless? Hints for Re-writing.

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

Resumes

A technical writer can take your resume and find a layout to make it pop.  A resume is more than black and white text listing your achievements, education, skills, experience, and technologies. A resume is a marketing tool for any individual looking for a job.

No one is going to take the time to read a resume that is three pages long. No one is going to read a resume that is text heavy.  No one is going to read an unorganized resume.  For example, look at this fictional resume for Ashkevron, Harry (Fictional Resume Original). This resume and others like it will be tossed into the garbage without a second glance.

One job can receive hundreds of application from around the world. Ashkevron’s resume has all of the necessary information that a university would look for in candidates. However, that information is buried and hard to find. The visual clues are confusing and direct your eye down the side of the page skipping over the text that shows his experience.

A resume is like a 10 second commercial. It has to catch your eye, show your skills, and demonstrate your experience while at the same time evoking excitement in the hiring manager. They have to believe that you are the perfect fit for their company. Ashkevron asked a technical writer for help and here is the result Ashkevron, Harry (Fictional Resume).

This resume is only one page and it is scan able. It has visual clues such as font styles, bullets, color, and white space that invite the eye to read the text. This resume now stands out and will get attention instead of landing in the garbage.

What can a technical writer do for your business?

A technical writer can update documentation to reflect new information, new images, or new branding.  A technical writer can create or update training materials to ensure employees understand their responsibilities. A technical writer can document processes to ensure that they are understood by employees and are done correctly by employees. A technical writer can interview subject matter experts to create manuals and service bulletins.

We are very proud to offer our services to help your company maintain its standards.