RE: Should writers develop their own illustrations?

Subject: RE: Should writers develop their own illustrations?
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- kinzan -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 10:56:10 -0800

> Ward Rosenberry wrote:
> >
> > A writer should know how to convey information - some information is
> > suited for prose, some for tables and lists and some is
> best presented
> > graphically.
> >
> > Is a writer who cannot develop graphic content lacking an essential
> > skill?

In 1983 I started my first job as a tech writer/instructional designer/
trainer and thought it prudent to take a class in tech writing at the
local junior college. The text was Houp & Pearsall. The assignment was
to document a complex concept that was better explained by illustration
than by prose.

At work, I was developing a training class for basic system operation
of the first Wang (DOS-based) PC. As I sat there wondering how the
heck I was gonna explain the file allocation table, formatting disks,
and data storage, light dawned. This was a great place for an illustration!

Obviously the textbook authors thought it was important for tech writers
to have rudimentary illustration skills and to be able to recognize when
an illustration is the best way to explain things. If we don't all at
least have that skill, then I'd say yes, we're lacking an essential

We don't all have to be artists. But we should be able to explain what
we want in a drawing to a graphic artist. And lacking the support of
a graphics professional, we should at least be able to arrange clip
art, draw arrows from one object to another, and label things clearly.

Just my opinion.

Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- kinzan -dot- com

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