Re: New to Industry

Subject: Re: New to Industry
From: "Phillip St. James" <saint0 -at- verizon -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 11:38:57 -0800

Congratulations on your new job and best wishes, Karen. As for the choice of layouts and the "look and feel" of your documents, here are some things to consider...

The attractiveness of printed or online pages is subjective. Your company has a style (or a number of styles) that is reflected in its existing documentation, white papers, marketing literature, ads, logos, and so on. You may want to remain pretty much the same or you may want to "ramp up" a bit to show a better "face" to the world, one that is perhaps more consistent.

MS Word is not the most flexible text layout application, but it isn't all that bad either. My advice is to gather as many examples of documents you find pleasing to the eye and try to replicate them in Word. MS Publisher is a great source for sample Word templates that you can easily fiddle with to customize.

What you are also dealing with, perhaps without being aware of it, is the need for a style guide that specifies how your documents are put together in terms of text, graphics, frontmatter, backmatter, types of documents, authoring applications, and other issues.

In a one-person tech pubs department, codifying style guide information may not be possible while meeting aggressive deadlines. But I think that you should spend some time determining how you and your colleagues want the documentation to appear and how effective/usable you want it to be. (Tech support customer and vendor inquiries/complaints regarding documentation shortfalls are a cheap and practical way to measure the usability and effectiveness of the existing documentation.)

Is there a budget for a temporary journeyman graphic designer to make up some templates for your various online and printed documents? Professional help in that area will make a great deal of difference...

Hope this helps, Karen,

Palo Alto



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New to Industry: From: Karen Blankenship

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