Re: New Tech Writer

Subject: Re: New Tech Writer
From: "Beth--kanerb -at- concentric -dot- net" <KaneRB -at- concentric -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2000 08:27:41 -0700

I totally agree with David. This is what I was going to suggest. Don't worry
about not having portfolio pieces that you wrote for pay. Find something to
document, and write about it. People need to see that you really can do a
good job of tech writing.

They'll also probably be impressed that you had the motivation to do this on
your own. It shows how much you want the job, and how interested you are in
tech writing, which definitely counts.

I can think of a few applications that have no printed user manuals. One is
Hypersnap, the $20 screen capture program I use. It has a help system of
sorts, but it ain't the greatest. Try writing a manual that would explain
how to use the program to a complete beginner, someone who's never made
screen captures. Also make sure you provide navigation elements that allow
experienced users to skip over the beginner stuff and get straight to the
how-tos, so they can be using the app in five minutes (with Hypersnap, that
is possible). Then all types of users should be happy.

Don't be verbose, get to the point, and sound friendly, because people using
a strange new app need encouragement.

When writing new docs, try not to rely on the existing help system. Instead,
USE the app and see how YOU think it should be explained. Get a fresh point
of view. That's the same thing you'll be doing on the job as a tech writer
(at least in the best computer tech writing jobs, IMO). Then you can use the
existing help system to find more subtle things about the system that you
may not have noticed.

Beth Kane
Senior Communications Specialist
bethk -at- personalgenie -dot- com

----- Original Message -----
> I recommend writing up some procedures in Word or FrameMaker about
> or hardware with which you are familiar. Do about five to ten pages. This
> number will give you a chance to show off both your procedure-writing and
> organizational skills. Be sure to include illustrations (screen grabs or
> line art) and format the document as if it were a finished product.
> You can then say, "See, I can do it!"

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