Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question

Subject: Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question
From: Bill Swallow <bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 Feb 2001 11:13:20 -0800 (PST)

> Anyway, I've found it interesting, as I've matured
> as a technical writer, that my interest in
> controlling my environment in terms of style-guide
> type decisions has waned, and the sense of freedom
> I feel at _not_ having to think about 1295 different
> "choose, select, or pick" issues is incredible.

I totally agree.

<rant class="mild">

I know a lot of writers cherish "the freedom of
creativity" when writing, but I have to ask you, what
does that buy you other than rushed deadlines? Why sit
there and think of how to word something when you
could just follow a style and get the job done? After
all, no one really cares about how creative a writer
was at linking overview information with a procedure,
kerning character space to achieve Zen, or how the
Garamond headings interact intricately and playfully
with the Century Schoolbook body text.

If you're out to create a work of art, then by all
means go hog wild (and don't expect understanding when
the deadline is upon you or when a superior wonders
why your document is different than the rest). But if
your job is to get something written and out the door
so people know how to use a product, put the French
curves away and get down to business.

A style guide ensures that your company's
documentation is consistent in delivering the
information to the masses so they don't have to think
about what you mean - they know from convention. A
style guide is not intended to cramp your style, and
it should not be viewed that way. If you have trouble
understanding the nature and purpose of a style guide
and the role of a technical writer, perhaps you're in
the wrong profession.

Sorry to be so blunt, but I've had to work with
several writers who couldn't understand why they
couldn't take artistic liberties with their documents.
When you're under the gun, there's no time for playing
around, and there certainly isn't time for
re-formatting something that wasn't done according to
standard in the first place.

Of course, if you're really down to the wire, I
totally agree that the primary objective is to get
docs out the door and into the hands of those who need
them. A style guide is a bit of a luxury, but it is
one that any self-respecting organization must try to
afford in order to put a good face forward.

</rant>

OK, so I was a bit opinionated, but I'm entitled to my
opinions and my expressions of them. If you are
offended, disgusted, inspired, or otherwise affected
by what I have written, please direct objective
comments to the list and hate/love mail to me
directly.

Thank you for your time. PEACE!

*g*

=====
Bill Swallow
Information Design & Development Professional
bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com - www.geocities.com/bill_swallow
List Owner, HATT <www.groups.yahoo.com/group/hatt>
List Owner, WWP-Users <www.groups.yahoo.com/group/wwp-users>
Editor, InFrame Magazine <www.inframe-mag.com>
WebWorks Wizard

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