Re: being too picky?

Subject: Re: being too picky?
From: Misti Anslin Tucker <manslin -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 10:49:10 -0400

I agree with Andrew's points, but I think Megan still had a very valid
question because most of us eventually end up on a job where we aren't, for
the moment, "functionally literate" in the field we're writing about. We
do need to figure out how to keep the writing correct while we're coming up
to speed.

Over the last 10 years, I've worked on documents for at least 16
industries. That's been quite acceptable because in each case I was
writing for a general knowledge audience. In many cases, they have had
industry expertise, but not about what I was writing to them about.

How have I sorted out the the obscure or possibly misleading comments from
my SMEs, many of whom had English as a second or third language? I came to
them with the sentence and said: "The way I red it, this could mean either
A or B. Is one of those correct?" Usually one was. Occasionally there
was a C I hadn't seen. In nay case, I've asked in a way that puts the lack
of understanding on me, I haven't bothered the SME about grammar, and I've
usually come a step closer to functional literacy in the field by the end
of the conversation.


At 02:01 PM 06/23/2000 -0700, Andrew Plato wrote:
>No, you're supposed to be a writer. And a real writer knows his/her topic as
>well as he/she knows his/her audience. Nobody is asking you to become an
>engineer. Merely that you should know your employer's products and
>well enough to make grammatical and English decisions about the documentation
>The priority for any good documentation is:
>1. Content
>2. Reader
>3. Organization
>4. Grammar/Good English
>You can have 1, without 2 and 3. You can have 1 and 2 without 3. However, you
>cannot have 4 without 1 and 2. It is a cascading dependency.
>Now, you can yell and scream and have 97 conniptions about this, but if
you do
>not understand the technologies you are documenting, I don't care how much
>obsess over English - you're not a writer. That's what editors do.
>Andrew Plato

Misti Anslin Tucker
manslin -at- earthlink -dot- net
ICQ: 77313826
Truth often suffers more by the heat of its defenders
than from the argument of its opposers. -- William Penn

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