Writing: better or worse after years on the job?

Subject: Writing: better or worse after years on the job?
From: "Nealon, Jessica" <Jessica -dot- Nealon -at- McKesson -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 10:24:15 -0400


I couldn't agree with you more on the clarity part of it. It does affect
your writing in other areas; I think for the better.

Some comments:

I don't worry that much about my grammar if my sentences communicate
effectively. That is, I've stopped turning myself inside out to not end
sentences on a preposition. If the user understands it better with a
preposition at the end, that's the way I write it.

The interesting thing that I didn't see discussed ( I don't think) is how
the longer you're on the job, the easier it becomes to lose touch with your
audience and that has an impact on whether you become a better or worse tech
writer over time. TC jargon has a way of creeping into your manuals when
you're not aware of it because you have become so accustomed to using that
jargon on the job in meetings, proposals, etc.

Ex: I consulted a senior writer here about what to call a GUI feature.
Because it had no title and wasn't a section, I referred to it as a "box,"
as in "move the data from the box on the left to the box on the right."
That was the best I could come up with. Her response was to call them
"window panes." As a writer, I can see that "window pane" is more
descriptive, elegant, and official than "box." The question is what does
the user think? I know that if I was the user, I would have no idea what
"window pane" referred to on the screen.

This becomes more difficult as you become more technical as well. The
technical terms start to creep in because you become so familiar with them.
It's a constant tightrope we walk.


Jessica Nealon
Technical Writer
Paragon Product Assurance Group - CLT
> McKesson Information Solutions, Inc
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