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<< wonder, do automotive manufacturers rely on tech writers to write
> manuals? >>
And then Melissa L. Owsley wrote:
<<Yes, they do. They hire the CHEAPEST contract house in the Detroit area
do most of them. I have friend who worked on them - for that company. The
REALLY GOOD writers work on the stuff for the engineers and mechanics. Face
it, most people don't read the owners manual to a car - but they do read the
repair manual if they are a mechanic.>>
As a former technical writer (of owners' manuals) and editor (of shop
manuals) for one of these contract houses, I must say that the writers
preparing the shop manuals were NOT the best "writers," but were definitely
the most "technical." Many of them were former mechanics with no writing
experience. They knew how to diagnose an automotive problem and fix it. The
writing they did was within a highly structured format so tremendous writing
skills weren't necessary. That's what the technical editors were for.
On the flip side, the writers for the owners' manuals were predominantly
"writers" with a little "technical" knowledge. Most of the stuff in the
owners' manuals requires no real technical knowledge; things like how to
operate the radio and cruise control. We relied heavily on our SMEs for the
more technical stuff (fluid capacities and replacement specs, engine size,
etc.), although I must say it was pretty cool playing around with vehicle
<<Another thing to note, the Auto industry is EXTREMELY gun shy about legal
ramifications to anything that comes from them. The legal department has
LAST WORD for every document that goes out to a customer.>>
Absolutely true. Try getting a warning approved by an automotive company's
legal department. Takes months.
<<(I don't work for the auto companies because they are among the worst
groups in Detroit for Tech Writers.)>>
Yep. That and the intense bureaucracy are why I left.
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