Re: Bitterness toward technical writers

Subject: Re: Bitterness toward technical writers
From: "Elna Tymes" <etymes -at- lts -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Jan 2001 15:05:28 -0800

Melanie Shook wrote:

> Some of the comments made, including Andrew's about his chat with the CTO,
> imply that writers are talking about fonts, etc., to non-writers. Is this
> really typical? I can understand why writers would talk about such things on
> techwr-l, but I can't imagine mentioning any such thing to my CTO.

While I can remember a contract where I was the only technical writer, and I was
trying to
set up a corporate look-and-feel and thus was negotiating fonts with the head of
most of the time the fonts and other look-and-feel issues are either inherited from
predecessor in the company or borrowed from some other company's style sheet.
(Remember when a lot of us started using Garamond because Apple was using it? and
when a lot of us started using wide left margins because HP and Microsoft were doing
In particular, CTOs and the like rarely get involved in font discussions. (That's
left for
endless discussions in places like this board. <g>)

I suspect Andrew was indulging in his usual hyperbole when he paraphrased the CTO,
although the gist of the objection was that writers should spend the majority of
their time
gathering information and writing, and very little time on stylistic issues such as
and style sheets. I agree completely. The problem is that technical folks tend to
find little
value in process, and while I understand their point of view, I value a certain
amount of time spent defining the process and thus the expectations - it tends to
make the
subsequent execution work better. Too much time in this exercise, of course, is
likely to
raise the hackles of those like the CTO in Andrew's example. Which is one of the
reasons I
put a process discussion in contract negotiation - that way these things get ironed
before we start billing.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

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