Re: The Technical Writing Field

Subject: Re: The Technical Writing Field
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2001 05:52:10 -0700

Hi George.

Very sensible questions. Here are my comments, for what they're worth:

"Must be able to interpret technical information and write clear
documentation "

I think this term is vague on purpose, because information can come from a
variety of sources: You will be called upon to interview Subject Matter
Experts (called SMEs), who may be bulging-forehead types who have a hard
time talking in the English of mere mortals. And/or you may be given the
design specifications (called specs) used by engineers in developing a
product. And/or you may take a training course in the use of the product.
The bottom line is it's your job to locate as many sources of information
as possible, then DIGEST all this information, and then decide the best
way to convey it to your reader, which also involves trying to determine
just who your reader is, and how much you think they'll need to know.

"Experience developing and managing documentation repositories"

This can be easy or hard. When you write this stuff, the files gotta live
somewhere. For complex products being documented by a team of writers,
this can get confusing, as you may have works-in-progress that are very
similar to the final version and/or previous versions of the
documentation. You need to be able to keep track of where the
latest-and-greatest info is located. Some people use elaborate software
solutions called Document Management Systems (DMS), while others simply
use a well-thought-out file-naming protocol.

"web development is a plus"

It's a BIG plus - there are several reasons why: This can tie in to the
previous requirement (documentation repositories). An intranet (a web site
that is ONLY used internally by your coworkers) can be a powerful tool for
letting people know where the info is. The bigger the company you're in,
the more this becomes an issue. By developing even a simple site listing
where pertinent files are (and/or offering links to those documents), you
can really increase the flow of information within your company.

Also, many companies deliver their documentation in the form of Web-based
Help files and/or tutorials. Understanding the underlying technology can
make you VERY valuable.

This brings me to another point: SHOWING YOUR VALUE. From direct
experience, I have found that creating and managing internal Web sites has
dramatically increased my profile in the last 2 jobs I've had. Often these
sites can be developed on your own time, and then humbly submitted to your
team ("I banged around with this little Web site this weekend, I thought
you guys might find it helpful....") You'd be AMAZED the fuss people will
make over you - seriously!

Which leads me to reveal another Big Secret: HTML is easy.

You literally can learn what you need to know to provide your team/company
with a simple but effective internal site in the course of a couple
weekends. I took a couple Saturday-afternoon courses at a local community
college, and bought a few HTML books from Amazon, and voila - I'm a Web
developer! It's easy and (to me at least) it's fun!

NOTE: Obviously heavy-duty Web development (involving actual CODE as
opposed to HTML, which is just a markup language) is complex and open
ended, but you really can create simple where-the-files-are sites as
easily as I've just described.

I heartily encourage you to take the plunge into tech writing. It's
lucrative, challenging, and there's almost always work for people who are
A) reasonably good at it, and B) pleasant to work with. (I think A and B
are roughly equal in their importance, an opinion that others may not

Good luck - I hope this is helpful!

- Keith Cronin


"I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write
faster than anybody who can write better."

- A.J. Liebling (1904-1963)


*** 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.

Previous by Author: Re: import Excel file into Word doc?
Next by Author: Re: Warm and Fuzzy Documentation
Previous by Thread: Re: The Technical Writing Field
Next by Thread: Re: The Technical Writing Field

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

Sponsored Ads