Writing and Editing

New Services: Grant Writing

grants-writing

We are adding grant writing to our services. We have some experience but we are new to this field. However, our inexperience is your gain because our price is going to be kept low until we get the experience. Plus, we only get paid if you receive the grant. It’s a win win situation for you.

We looking forward to working with you to help your organization succeed in its goals.

Editing isn’t important….right? by Melinda Anderson

I have just spent three hours helping my husband to study for a General Painting Contractors License to cover certain states in the midwest. The experience has been highly entertaining and informative. In fact, it has been so entertaining that I have chosen to share a few of the questions from the practice tests he has been studying. Let’s start with something very basic such as extra words.

“What should aluminum be wiped with what after weathering?”

Now, you might have quickly read this question and your eyes may have stumbled but you got the gist of the question. You might have even read it agin just to make sure. However, let’s pretend for five minutes that you have a reading disability. You might read this question like this:

“What should aluminum be wiped with what? After weathering.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have made several errors just like this one. Writing is not perfect, however, the author of this question could have taken at least 5 seconds to read the question thereby discovering the extra word.

Most of the questions are the standard multiple choice with one or two answers. This next example is confusing because the sentence has blank spaces for two answers but only one is needed.

“A HEPA sanding abatement method removes _____________ and _________________ coating.”

( ) lead based
( ) epoxy based
( ) primer based
( ) none of the above”

I read this and I automatically assumed that two answers are needed because there are two blank spaces. I quickly scanned my choices looking for one with two answers. I expected something like ( ) lead and epoxy based or ( ) both 1 and 2.  As you can see, there is not a selection with two answers. I reread the question and looked at the answers again. I quickly realized that someone had made a mistake and no one had caught it.

I don’t want this post to be longer than necessary so let me sum up the rest of the errors really quick, missing articles, misused prepositions, conflicting information, and misused punctuation. These are just the common errors that I, a lowly technical writer, discovered in three hours while helping my husband study.

These materials are supposed to be designed to help a student learn. However, errors like these only confuse a student and make the learning process even more difficult.

I guess whoever wrote these materials did not consider the student’s need. After all, why bother editing if you don’t care about your audience.

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.

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

Hit and Miss; Our Marketing Flier Mistake

When we first started this business, we printed up fliers to hand out to potential customers and clients. We created something quick and did not revisit it until almost six months later. Here is the original, keep in mind it is two fliers on one page, DragonTechone page flier

It has all the pertinent information such as business name, services, blog address, names, contact information, etc. However, it is a jumbled mess. There is no organization for a reader’s eyes to follow. There was no thought what so ever put into this flier; other then to get our name out quickly. This is a mistake that most businesses make, including ours.

Anything that has your businesses name, logo, or information needs to be carefully planned, discussed, and executed to make sure that it reflects your business and the audience you are targeting. It could be as simple as a flier or as complex as a website. The point is you have about 3 seconds to catch your audience’s attention before they move on to the next business.

This flier is part of our marketing campaign to introduce us to professionals and businesses that may need our services and it does not show who we are or the services that we offer. We quickly came up with a layout and design that reflected what we could do for other professionals and businesses. Here is the new flier, still two fliers on one page, DragonTech Writing, Flier. Can you spot the differences?

This flier has the exact same information as the first with some tweaks. It catches the eye and is organized for our audience to scan it quickly. Our business name and logo are now separated from the information by stylistic elements. Okay, it is just a line but it still allows a reader to zoom in on the business name. The second line lets the audience know that they are done reading. It also tells us where to cut the flier so we don’t accidentally cut out information.

This is the flier we should have started with to market our company. This is what we can do for you or your company, point out the flaws in your documentation then create a design and templates that represent your business accurately.