Re: Favorite TW Book?

Subject: Re: Favorite TW Book?
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 07:22:56 -0700


Steven wrote:

> My pet peeve with most books about tech writing (as
> well as those about other writing genres) is the
> discussion of grammar, punctuation, capitalization,
> etc. -- basic concepts that should be understood and
> mastered before beginning a career in technical
> writing. I may be wrong, but I recall these topics
> were even covered in graduate-level TW courses; it's
> hard to believe that someone pursuing a master's
> degree needs to learn about subject-verb agreement or
> using the active voice.


I disagree to some extent, and here's why:

While it is now becoming more common for students to study technical
writing as a profession in college, the reality is that the majority of
working tech writers are people who came into tech writing from another
line of work.

This field is rife with career-changers from all walks of life, some of
whom may have never had formal training in writing, or for whom MANY years
may have passed since they last had such training. We've had numerous
polls and surveys on this list, revealing that we've got everything from
army field medics to rock drummers among our ranks. So there's no harm in
some reference information being contained in these books - I think we can
all use some reminders and guidance occasionally.

I know I've always found it useful to have a shelf full of reference books
handy, to remind me of rules of style, usage, grammar, etc. I subscribe to
the Henry Ford school of thought that I don't have to KNOW everything, I
just need to be able to FIND the information I need when I need it.

If I already know something that's covered in one of these books, I ignore
that section. But it's nice to know it's there, just in case I have a
brain fart!


Keith Cronin
a rebel with a (subordinate) clause


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