RE: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program

Subject: RE: Most Impt. Skill to Learn in Tech Comm Program
From: TDean -at- envirosys -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 11:05:29 -0400


What comes to my mind is sticking to what you believe in - good writing and
design. Always, always keep educating yourself. Never stop brushing up on
your writing skills. Know your product, your audience, and subject matter -
don't get lazy. Never walk away from a university thinking that you know
how to make an effective document, and that is it. In my company, I
recently had to prove my knowlege of technical writing because they wanted
to know why I chose left justification - the secretary thinks full
justification is better. (Yes, I know - Eeeek!) Now my face turned red
and I was blistering mad that anyone would question my judgement over an
administrative assistant's - not to mention micro-managing! I have been an
executive assistant before and business correspondence has different
standards. After calming down and telling myself that some corporate
people just do not know what technical writing is, I whipped out my old
textbooks and other style manuals and prepared a brief report explaining to
my boss that the technical writing field is a PROFESSIONAL field. I am not
some secretary that fools with documents and picks fonts or left
justification out of the clear blue sky because I think it looks pretty.

Technical communication has grown so much in the past 3 decades. Some
companies are still realizing that they can't shove off documentation to
secretaries or programmers anymore while others have entire technical
communication departments. Manuals and help has such a bad reputation
because it has sucked for so many years. If one more person walks past my
cubicle and makes a joke about manuals not being used.... Whap, whap,

I have only been out of college almost 4 years. The hardest thing was
adjusting to the real world. Crafting your writing skills and theories in
the university or program (idealistic setting) is the easy part.

Now if you are talking about the most important skill in technical writing
like language vs. design, I don't think there is a "most important."
All of them are important because they work together in unison.
Tina Dean


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