Re: If You Were Gonna Teach...

Subject: Re: If You Were Gonna Teach...
From: "Martin Page" <mpage -at- csl -dot- co -dot- uk>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 16:24:54 -0000

"Tom Murrell asked...
> If you were going to teach a writing course to your Subject Matter
> what would you stress?

IMHO, stress things that would save them time (which would just happen to
also make their text easier for you to edit).

I can think of four
For instructions and process descriptions, teach them to write in present
tense, as if describing things as they happen. This avoids horrors like:

"If the techthing detects a widget then it will do a widget process. On
having completed the widget process it will then have had... " at which
point they start wasting hours inventing baroque new future tenses.

Get them to address the user in imperative "as if shouting instructions to a
not-very-bright colleague over a noisy factory floor" (I once put that in a
style guide).

Anything - anything - is better than the typical SME speak: "If it is
deemed a requirement, the user may undertake the modification of the
customisation settings via the clicking of the menu..." And again, this
sourt of roundabout verbiage just has to take them longer to write than a
simple list of instructions.

Bullet points = good. Continuous paragraphs more than a page long = bad.

VI is not a word processor (well, it's worth a try).

However, your best bet might be customising a template with easy to use
style buttons and then teaching them how to use that - this strategy worked
for me at my last place

Rather you then me!


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