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

Subject: RE: Mayvbe O/T? - Text development vs tech writing
From: edunn -at- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 16:54:19 -0400

Walden wrote in response to Dick:
>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.

On a list that often sees complaints of lack of respect for techwriters, I have
to flag that response. If your company is large enough to employ dedicated
illustrators, production specialists, and template designers or typesetters,
then it behooves to you as a professional techwriter to give them the respect
they are due. If they are there in that capacity it is because they <<ARE>>
better than you at that task. In the same manner you are a better writer than
the engineers (or the production specialist).

Walden continues:
>What process exists to communicate between the
>writer and the publisher (my word for the specialist).

I would ask what process exists to communicate between SMEs and writers? If you
can pull that off I don't see your objection to pulling off working with other
the ending of the thought applies equally to writer SME interaction: " This can
be a real headache if a quality system is not in place for handling the writing
hand-off in both directions." Just use the word technical validation.

Walden Continues:
> , 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.

This is failure of management to ensure the department is properly trained and
skilled. You see this all the time in down sizing and reorganizations.
Management fails to do an analysis of current needs and skills and cuts critical
staff (or overworks them forcing them to leave, or undervalues them allows to

Walden continues:
>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).

So why not have the engineers and developers write the manuals? What happens if
the writer quits and no one knows how to create user documentation?

Eric L. Dunn


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