RE: Please send alcoholic beverages. . . quickly

Subject: RE: Please send alcoholic beverages. . . quickly
From: "Rock, Megan" <Megan -dot- Rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 14:44:24 -0400

Maggie Secara said:

> I can tell you I have often wished Marketing did have some
> input in my
> manuals. When I started this job 2 years ago, they did
> commission new cover
> design, but book design as such? Never even looked at it, and
> never had
> before. Now I'm a pro. I know how to organize information,
> and I do have a
> good eye and some understanding of layout.

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I assumed that most technical writing training
programs (conferences, workshops, college degrees, etc.) devoted at least
some time to the layout and organization of a manual. I know that I had an
entire college course devoted to "Design of Manuals." That's when we
explored things like page layout, white space, margins, fonts, font sizes,
icons, graphics, content organization, and the rest. We also had a course
in Graphic Design that included designing a newsletter, a brochure, and
other "marketing" materials for the imaginary businesses we were in charge
of publicizing. We had another course in Public Relations writing, besides
the actual technical writing and technical editing courses.

The major was actually called "Professional Writing," not "Technical
Writing," and the aim was to prepare us to pursue careers in technical
writing, editing, web site design, marketing, public relations writing, and
related fields. Maybe that's why the program covered so many aspects of

I don't think there's anything wrong with a Marketing department
contributing to technical documentation, and I can understand how leaving up
to Marketing the decisions about fonts and layout could be a time-saver, but
I'm surprised that so many of you think that it's almost vital that
Marketing be involved in those decisions. I guess I assumed most technical
writers had some training in or exposure to the "make it pretty and make it
sell" strategies used by marketeers and would be comfortable, if not
confident, making decisions about fonts and layout. Was my college
experience that unusual, or are there others out there whose training
programs included instruction in manual design and layout?

I admit that my gut reaction to the notion of having Marketing involved in
our documentation is, "Whoa, that would never work!" But that's probably
due to the fact that I don't have a lot of exposure to the projects our
marketing department works on. Perhaps if I was more familiar with the
department, I would have more confidence in their ability to take my 1600
page manual in its D-ring binder and make it look real snazzy at half the
current cost. :)

Megan E. Rock
Technical Writer
Product Information
megan -dot- rock -at- fanucrobotics -dot- com

All views expressed are entirely my own and are not necessarily shared
by my friends, co-workers, or employer.

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