RE: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing

Subject: RE: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 12:26:42 -0600

Dick writes: If you have graphics specialists (or formatters or whatever you
call them in your organization) who are competent, efficient, and
knowledgable about the products you are documenting, they can be valuable
partners. It may well be that they are better designers than you are, know
more about company style and company templates, and are more efficient with
publishing and graphics tools than you.

>>> This is a big if.

Dick continues: That means you can concentrate on being an author. It does
not mean that you have no say in how your words are presented, however. You
can certainly make sketches or write notes (whether in pencil or in Word)
that clarify your intent, especially if you have something specific in mind.
You can specify what screenshots you need, what callouts they should have,
what the legends should say.

>>> This is the real issue. What process exists to communicate between the
writer and the publisher (my word for the specialist). Often what happens
in these cases is that the publisher starts as the person to combine the
text and format the text, but ends up demanding/defining the text: needs to
be shorter, longer, etc. Basically an editor/reporter journalism model. It
is an old model, but it is getting new life because of the web and online
content. Regardless, IMHO the issue is communication between the writer and
publisher and the processes for editing, submitting drafts, etc. This can
be a real headache if a quality system is not in place for handling the
writing hand-off in both directions.

I work with a company that handled all of its docs in the publisher/writer
division. After five years of this system, none of the current writers had
ever created (in framemaker) a TOC, INDEX, Master page, Reference page. They
use frame, but they could just as easily use word or notepad. Now they
changed the system back to a writer as designer system (due to a buy-out)
and the writers are having trouble implementing style guides, being in
control of their own work, etc. The publisher quit and as the only
indexer/designer/etc., they found they had a single-point failure in their
processes. This is one of the reasons I am working with their company. I
am providing a new style manual, lessons on how to implement it, etc.

I understand that not all writers are good designers. That is why style
guides exist. They do free the writer to work on writing not on design.
However, the change from working without a style guide (just the text,
ma'am) to working with a style guide can be very frustrating for many

I would resist the path to division of labor (what happens when the
designer/publisher quits and no one understands the way in which the
convergence of text into document works). If that is impossible, make sure
the draft/edit/final delivery process is well understood by publisher and
writer(s) and that the convergence process is documented. Also make sure
management understands the reasons for the documentation of the processes.



*** Deva(tm) Tools for Dreamweaver and Deva(tm) Search ***
Build Contents, Indexes, and Search for Web Sites and Help Systems
Available now at or info -at- devahelp -dot- com

Sponsored by Cub Lea, specialist in low-cost outsourced development
and documentation. Overload and time-sensitive jobs at exceptional
rates. Unique free gifts for all visitors to

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 for more resources and info.

Re: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing: From: Dick Margulis

Previous by Author: RE: Issues with distribution of technical documents
Next by Author: RE: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing
Previous by Thread: Re: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing
Next by Thread: RE: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads