RE: Formatting Docs On-The-Fly

Subject: RE: Formatting Docs On-The-Fly
From: "Etzel, Gary" <Gary -dot- Etzel -at- Advantica -dot- biz>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 13:59:53 -0500

> If for example, the standard formatting calls for
> right-size numbered steps (written in the active
> voice), if I have "holes" in my understanding of the
> subject matter, I can try and hide such by switching
> to unnumbered (read: often non sequential), large
> paragraphs written in puffed up, vague,
> non-active-voice language.

I can't speak for where you worked, but a style change that drastic would
send up an immediate red flag here. It would draw attention to itself,
rather than mask any problems. I can't imagine a writer could get away with
that. Sooner or later, somebody is going to read it.

> Rationale: If they can't establish the flow of it
> and/or get specific with it, then maybe they will not
> be able t see the holes in it. Happened all the time
> at the DOD agency which I contracted at. (Often times
> such text was prefixed with a statement like "The
> procedure to do X is simple.")

As a manager, I can teach a writer how to get information from SMEs and
other resources, to fill in the documentation gaps. But I would be much more
disturbed by deliberate attempts to deceive me, and ultimately, my
customers. Tony, do you know for sure that this was purposely done? Could
the issue be that they were not properly trained or were not competent
enough to do the job right?
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