TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
<David asks:> I am trying to decide which of the commonly-used tools will be
of most value in my quest for tech writing assignments. I realize that the
tools required depend on what the client wants, or is using. I want to buy
my own copy and train with it. I've narrowed my list to Acrobat, FrameMaker,
RoboHelp and Crystal Reports.
David, Jay recommends a graphics manipulation program (Photoshop or Paint
Shop Pro - good idea), and Ivan says Word is the most-used product. For my
two cents, I'll say check the technical writer job postings in your greater
geographical area through a search on the various Internet job boards. Visit
as many job boards as you can to get a better "feel" for the requirements in
You'll find that various industries have their writing tool preferences. For
example, the financial services industry mostly prefers Word while software
companies may use FrameMaker more often than not. As for companies moving
away from printed documentation to an electronic or online format, you may
see a split between RoboHelp HTML and Dreamweaver, with requests for skills
in using Flash and other multimedia applications.
Now, if you're salivating to get into instructional design, there's
Macromedia's Authorware. But, that's another topic.
Welcome to the profession! I hope you'll love it as much as I and others on
this listserv do. Keep in mind that not all technical writers write for the
software or hardware industries. (Although those colleagues may be the most
vocal on this listserv... [she says wondering when the flames will begin]
P.S. Use the archives to search on "professional associations." You might
want to consider joining one or two for networking purposes.
Sr. Technical Writer
Pacific Life Insurance Co.
jenise -dot- cook-crabbe -at- pacificlife -dot- com
A single petal
Of the cherry blossom fell:
Summer haiku by
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