Portfolios vs. writing samples?

Subject: Portfolios vs. writing samples?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, "'Cindy Ravenna'" <cravenna -at- earthlink -dot- net>
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2000 18:08:55 -0400

Erin Christine McLaughlin is <<... currently assembling a portfolio.
Obviously, since I haven't yet had a technical writing job, I don't have
much to put in my portfolio, but the professor in charge of the internship
program requires that we include samples of our work from technical writing

It's worth creating real examples of unreal projects: pick an elegant
solution to a problem, apply it to some other problem (e.g., configuring
your modem, deciding which type of mail or courier to use), and use that as
an example of your ability to solve problems.

<<My question to all of you is about the difference between a portfolio and
what you're calling writing samples.>>

A portfolio is really just a collection of writing samples. Pick the ones
that are most relevant to the person you're trying to impress, but try to
include a range of samples with different objectives.

Cindy Ravenna is <<... developing a business Web site for myself as an
independent contractor. The site will include my experience, education,
computer skills, and work history. It's looking pretty good but I need to
decide whether to attempt to include any portfolio pieces online.>>

If you've got something available that would suit the online medium, or be
easy to download and view, then by all means, put it up on the site. If not,
you'll have to let the site speak for you.

<<I have the same proprietary constraints that many of you do so most of
what I could put up is either older or from my MS Tech Com program.>>

With propietary information, use the approach you used to develop a
particular solution to produce a sample using some ad hoc text. People pay
you for solutions, so you want to write something short but sweet that
demonstrates your ability to solve a problem.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"Technical writing... requires understanding the audience, understanding
what activities the user wants to accomplish, and translating the often
idiosyncratic and unplanned design into something that appears to make
sense."--Donald Norman, The Invisible Computer

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