Re: Important Stuff They Don't Teach In Tech Writing School Was Re: School vs experience...

Subject: Re: Important Stuff They Don't Teach In Tech Writing School Was Re: School vs experience...
From: mearro -at- msn -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 26 Aug 2004 11:48:38 -0600

> Of course bad grammar will hurt a Tech Writer. It is
> just that proper grammar beyond the basics is not
> going to buy the writer anything.
> Tony Markos
As a longtime lurker, I'm always confused by these "either or" discussions
that some people start. This seems to be the latest in a series following
after style vs. content, technical knowledge vs. writing ability, etc.

It's a copout - a means to justify either your weakness or personal
preference. It also seems to illustrate the fact that some of us work in
industries & locations that are less demanding & competitive.

Of course, most people would probably agree that content is more important
than style. And if your info isn't accurate or useful - your great writing
skills aren't enough to create adequate - much less great - technical
writing. There are also things that are more important than proper

However, that simply means that you prioritize while still doing
everything you can - whenever you can.

In one situation, making a release date may be more important than having
a final review of your docs. That doesn't mean that you don't have final
reviews for your other docs.

As for proper grammar - I'd recommend following the rules - whenever you
can. Of course, there are types of docs (technical specs, internal
communication, etc.) where proper grammar seems less necessary. But, at
the very least, you should understand and be able to use proper grammar.

At the very minimum, I want to be more technical than the marketing folks
and write better than the technical folks. Without that - how can I have
any job security? What value would I provide? Anyone could do my job.

I don't know what proper grammar buys you. But without proper grammar, you
may be perceived as careless and/or unskilled. Your work may be considered
flawed & to contain mistakes.

I started out as a newspaper editor & remember the red-inked articles we
would get in the mail - readers catching typos and making grammatical
corrections. I think of those readers when I write. I also think of the
former English major/user at my first technical writing job. She would
bombard our doc group with similar corrections that only ended when we
improved the quality of our docs.

- Mary


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