RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question

Subject: RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question
From: Martha J Davidson <editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 16:48:19 -0700

At 04:23 PM 10/22/2001 -0700, Iggy wrote:

Do process is fairly similar. You write, you review,
you revise, you publish. Some omit steps, some add
steps but eventually you go from write to publish.

Well, at a very high level that is true. But what about
all those company-specific decisions that have been made
that you shouldn't have to revisit every time? You know,
things like standard dpi for graphics, line widths and
arrowheads for diagrams and callouts, Acrobat Distiller
settings--just to name a few?

It's one thing to say, "here are the templates, go to
it," and another to say, "here's a really basic style guide
that lists the decisions we've made about phrasing
and formatting so you don't have to guess how we
do things."

When I arrived at my current job almost 5 months ago,
there was no techpubs department--I got to create
it myself. And I did. Basic FrameMaker and WebWorks
templates, enough to get going on a doc plan that
reflected what the documents would look like, and
a list of style notes that recorded conventions I
decided to follow.

Then when I got to hire a contractor I had something
I could show him to get him started. He quickly found
things that were missing from my list, and we decided
together how to handle each issue and added those
to the list.

Creating basic process documentation doesn't need
to be overly cumbersome, but it sure beats not having
it. I used to think that new writers could look over the
existing docs and intuit what structure and phrasing to
use based on what had come before them. In fact, I was
quite surprised when I realized that not everyone did
that the way I do. That was when I became determined
to write down what I do and what I learned from existing
documents, so that I could point to it when I edited
the work of other writers.

Process doesn't have to get in the way of getting the
job done. When done right, it makes it work more easily.

martha
--
Martha Jane {Kolman | Davidson}
Dances With Words
mailto:editrix -at- nemasys -dot- com

"We must become the change we want to see in the world."
--Gandhi


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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question: From: Maggie Secara
RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question: From: Iggy

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