Re: Documentation plans, standards manuals, and more

Subject: Re: Documentation plans, standards manuals, and more
From: "Ken Poshedly" <Ken_Poshedly/Parts/ProductSupport/GA/KFI -at- kfiusa -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 10:05:05 -0400

Don't judge Jessica too harshly. She may be heading off trouble. I once
worked in a doc department that over a 10-year period went from 4 or 5
writers to about 9; 1 illustrator to 2; IBM 5520 dumb terminals and fixed
formatting to Word Perfect, Ventura Publisher, PCPaintbrush and then
Interleaf (with its required 3 formatting personnel) and saw the
consistency and quality of books suffer when writers were given either no
guidelines or allowed to break the rules with no restrictions. The
personality conflicts were also fast and furious as well.

The problem was that customers began to wonder if the various manuals were,
in fact, from the same company and had doubts about the accuracy (seeing
how the covers and explanatory text styles were in some cases so different
from book to book). When that happens, your company loses credibility and
then marketshare and then money and then . . . you.

To some writers who have little or no writing or publication design
experience, such a style guide can be a relief because it frees them up
from having to worry about more than just getting the data right.

Of course, only good, solid writing skills -- and an observant editor --
can prevent slang expressions and such from appearing in books. For
instance, no matter where you live, and even if it is okay to say it in
your part of the country, stuff like, "If bolt A is loose, you are needing
to tighten it" is just NOT okay for a tech manual. And I have seen it.


Jessica Pease wrote....

> I would like to develop a documentation standards guide to address
> usage, style, naming conventions, templates and more; to be used by the
> team, development, and possibly other teams. I would also like to develop
> formal documentation plan for the new product we are developing.

Are you going to tie the writers down to their desks and beat them with
as well?

:-) I'm just being silly. But I have a serious question to ask...

Do you really need all these things? What is hindering you right now from
writing documents such that you need all this stuff?

Andrew Plato


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