TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
When it comes to an in-house style manual, I see
1) pre-emptive and,
The first sad fact is that CMS, MSMoS and whatever else
are looked at as big, intimidating, annoyingly-fussy
documents that nobody is really going to study.
The second sad fact is that, except for the most anally
retentive types, most people (including those for whom
English is not a first language) come with the built-in,
nearly-inerradicable assumption that "I write just fine,
Combine those two.
The result is that all references to the standard works
will be corrective, remedial, after-the-fact. That is,
you or some literate manager or some marketing type or
some owner-of-the-corporate-look minion are going to
spy something gawdawful. You will approach the offender
with printout and red pen in hand, and you will refer
to the standard works as justification for your various
With that in mind, when I write an in-house style guide,
1) I point at the adopted standard work(s)
c) some (bleagh!) military standard?
d) recommended dictionaries
e) prescribed spelling/language style (i.e., 'Murrican
or Brit) and when/if each is appropriate.
2) I tell the reader where to find approved templates and
logos, and what are the blood-curdling penalties for
modifications or failure to use.
3) Then I jump into a few pages of stuff-people-usually-get-wrong,
and WHY it's wrong, with examples.
I try to keep it light, even humorous. My text includes stuff
that is peculiar to our corporate look as well as stuff
you'd find in Fowler, Strunk&White, Gordon... CMS...
because my experience is that those items are FCOs
(frequently committed offences :-) and that nobody is going
to look it up because they all know they are wonderful
Ten pages, they can probably handle, especially if (as
part of their orientation/indoctrination) they have to
sign that they've actually read it. Ahem!
Your Mileage May Vary.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bill Swallow [mailto:bill_swallow -at- yahoo -dot- com]
> Sent: Tuesday, March 27, 2001 2:01 PM
> To: TECHWR-L
> Subject: Re: Style Manual
> > How would you design this manual? What elements
> > would you include?
> I would design it with thought, wit, and probably a
> DTP tool of some sort. ;)
> I'd include any and all elements that are not covered
> by the documents you already reference (CMS and
> MSMoS), and anything that differs slightly from these
> references. In other words, conventions, style
> definitions, department procedures, TW
> responsibilities, favorite beanie babies, a pointless
> quote from a forgotten author... oops, got carried
> away! ;)
> Include info about things you want to control the
> look, feel, and function of, and design it so it
> acceptably fits your department's (or company's) needs.
*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems
Available 4/30/01 at http://www.devahelp.com or info -at- devahelp -dot- com
A landmark hotel, one of America's most beautiful cities, and
three and a half days of immersion in the state of the art:
IPCC 01, Oct. 24-27 in Santa Fe. http://ieeepcs.org/2001/
You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.