Re: sharing templates

Subject: Re: sharing templates
From: David Orr <dorr -at- ORRNET -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 16:37:44 -0600

Jim Shaeffer wrote:

>I think the revelation that a documentation template can represent an
>investment of over $20,000 will come as a breathtaking revelation to many
>people on this list. (You mean a template isn't something that can be
>up in a few lines on the back of a used envelope?). Your information goes a
>long way toward explaining what all the fuss is about.

Even a bare-bones template that takes 80 hours to do would cost about $2400
to an employer who had a $50,000 a year tech writer doing it. We did a lot
of programming on the wizard and toolbar, and created really extensive
keyboard macros and Autotext so touch typists could use their keyboards more
efficiently. Even a simple template can save more than $2400 on the first
project in both writing and editing time. We made up the cost of our $20,000
template within three months, and used it for a year afterwards with no

Andrew Plato's ad hoc, inductive methodology for accumulating a template
over a year probably works well at a small shop where clients aren't too
fussy about their corporate look. It certainly doesn't "waste" time on
"one-off" work. However, the waste comes in the process of creating
documents when the wheel gets re-invented a lot by different writers, or
massive editing has to be done later when clients want all their documents
to have a similar look and feel.

An experienced tech writer can whip up a bare-bones template and style sheet
in 20 to 80 hours, depending on the complexity. Training other writers in
the use of these tools can take a half a day. Using Andrew's method of
putting the template and stylesheet online for accumulating changes can work
well; a Web site for accumulating document experience can also work well. I
think accumulating experience and knowledge work better if you start with
something, in this case a bare-bones template.

M. David Orr
Orr & Associates Corporation

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