RE: gearing up to be a tech writer

Subject: RE: gearing up to be a tech writer
From: "Gomez, Philip F" <GomezPF -at- ch -dot- etn -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 08:44:58 -0400

Of the options you mentioned, assuming your writing skills are in good
shape, I would personally go for learning FrameMaker 6.0 first. That's a
skill you'll be able to use in a variety of jobs. All the other "hot"
technologies (read: acronyms like PHP, XML, Linux, TeX, VB, etc.) keep
proliferating; I think you're better off learning exactly the ones you need
in depth as you need them.

Granted, some companies aren't using FrameMaker for documentation (and in
the future we'll probably all be using some XML tool); but if you have a
choice, I recommend working in FrameMaker -- you'll save yourself a lot of
trouble. (I've heard that even Microsoft uses FrameMaker to publish some of
it's books.) If you do decide on FrameMaker, make sure to get the Enhance
plug-in from -- it's invaluable.

(Off the record, if you get a job and they force you to work in Word, I'd
quit and find another. Some would say I'm biased; I think I'm just spoiled.

As far as the "business" end of things goes, you may want to pick up a book
like _Making Money in Technical Writing_ by Peter Kent. It's very thorough.

Now, all that above is just what I would say from my experience. Make sure
to use whatever's useful and leave the rest behind. :)

Phil Gomez

Also, if interested, I put together a list of other recommended books for
technical writers at
Some of them may be of interest.


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