Re: OT: Tech writers and cookbooks

Subject: Re: OT: Tech writers and cookbooks
From: Jo Baer <jbaer -at- mailbox1 -dot- tcfbank -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 14:46:58 -0600

I think you've got a pretty good start already. I agree with your points on the
order of ingredients, the multiple steps crunched into one, and the prose style
of presenting the procedures (and sometimes even the ingredients!).

In a recipe with several distinct procedures or phases, for example, preparing a
marinade, preparing the main portion of the dish, and preparing a sauce, I like
to have those things separated by at least a blank line. Labeling the parts is
even better.

One of my biggest complaints about some cookbooks is the indexing. If you want
to see lots of examples of lousy indexes, look at a bunch of cookbooks. If I
have eggplant on hand and want to find recipes for using it, it isn't helpful if
the only index reference is to Golden Crunchy Eggplant Surprise.

I think writing a cookbook is a specialized form of tech writing, and I too
intend to write a cookbook some day.

Good luck,

Jo Baer
Senior Technical Writer
TCF National Bank
Minneapolis, Minnesota
jbaer -at- mailbox1 -dot- tcfbank -dot- com

If you can remain calm, you
just don't have all the facts.

Steve Shepard wrote:

> If this is to far off-topic, please delete this message rather than flame
> me.
> I'm a tech writer and I cook a lot. You would think a recipe in a cookbook
> and writing, say, software documentation would have some similarities. But,
> just as there is a fair amount of bad technical writing, cookbook recipes
> seem to be even worse.
> For example, beginning with a list of ingredients is great, but often they
> aren't in any order that makes sense. And if the prep and cooking
> instructions are numbered, they usually include several steps, not one at a
> time. When the instructions are in prose, I find I often have to read the
> paragraph two or three times to figure out what I am actually supposed to
> do. And when I am told "do this, but not that" I am never told "why" (place
> it in a plastic or ceramic bowl, not glass).
> >From the point of view of a tech writer, what would be a better way to
> present this kind of information.

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