RE: Alternatives to Word/Enlightenment

Subject: RE: Alternatives to Word/Enlightenment
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: 'TECHWR-L' <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 19:36:51 +0100

Grace Fielder wrote:
<<I am very new to both this list and this profession, having graduated over
the summer and started my first Technical Author job just seven weeks ago. I
am the first technical author the company has had as all documentation was
previously written by the people who created the software and so I have
no-one to question with regards to "the way things are done". I have noticed
that Framemaker seems to be the popular choice for creating technical
documentation but I have no knowledge of any alternatives to Word or their
benefits. Would somebody mind enlightening on things that beginner technical
authors should know???>>

Congratulations! Enjoy your first job, and may this be the beginning of a
beautiful career. Enlightenment? I have a bucketful.

Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask them even if they seem like stupid
questions. Don't be afraid to ask them even if they *are* stupid
questions... If you're the sole and neo technical author in a company who
has never had one before, there will probably be a lot of them. I was in the
same situation in my first job and I wish I'd known about this list then.
Ask questions!

Do research. Framemaker is a great choice for creating technical
documentation, but may not be the best choice in all circumstances. You can
find expert information on FrameMaker and Word, but *you* need to be the
expert on technical writing for your company. Figure it out for yourself by
researching FrameMaker - see if you can get a cutprice evaluation copy. Make
sure your expertise is recognised but don't claim expertise where you have
it not.

Meet deadlines. Read specs. Don't believe everything you read. Write short
sentences. Use bulleted lists. Don't use lots of different fonts. Wear
sunscreen. Oops, I think that was the Chicago Tribune. Relax!

Incidentally, if you work in or within reachable distance of London, a
couple of your new colleagues are trying to do regular Techwr-L lunches -
e-mail me for the next date/place.

Jane Carnall
"Bother," said Pooh. "Eeyore, ready two photon torpedoes and lock phasers on
the Heffalump. Piglet, meet me in transporter room three. Christopher Robin,
you have the bridge."

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