RE: Style guides?

Subject: RE: Style guides?
From: "Joe Malin" <jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com>
To: "Lisa C. Boyd" <lisab -at- lisaboyd -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 18:29:34 -0800

1. Use the style guidelines for your company, even if they conflict with
what you've been taught. I always
think that consistency is better than "correctness".
2. Style guides cover so many different aspects of the writing trade
that it's impossible for one to do
everything.
3. I worked for Oracle, whose overall style I agreed with. I use many of
their ideas. You can try to get a
copy of the Oracle Style Guide. The one I have is part number
A23840-03, October 2001 if you want. Consider
though that Oracle's "problem" is writing printed books for very
large software systems requiring lots of
documentation. The Oracle SQL Reference is currently 2 volumes, >500
pages each!
4. I am currently a lone writer, working for a company that never had
any style guidelines before. So, to
some extent I've made my own, based on these books:
a. The Oracle Style Guide
b. Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Ed.
c. Xerox Publishing Standards (no longer in print, but usually
available from Amazon).
d. Microsoft Manual of Style (?)

Sorry, but I'm on vacation right now and the books aren't in front of
me. Some of the titles may be different. I won't have a chance to update
this until Tuesday.

Strunk and White, despite its reputation, is not complete enough for my
needs. Chicago is a great reference *and* an excellent read as well. I
learned everything I know about book "standards" from Chicago.

Oracle is a good basis for word usage, particularly whether to hyphenate
something or not.

Xerox has an excellent appendix that describes in detail a formatting
standard they used. It gets down to line spacing, fonts, numbering, and
so forth. I use many of their ideas in my work. I started out by asking
"OK, what *is* the best line length on an 8.5x11 page? What should the
fonts be?" and Xerox answered many of those questions.

The Microsoft Manual helps me use Microsoft's terminology for the
Windows UI. The software I document runs on Windows, and I want my
documentation to mesh into MS's own help system. Using the MS manual
helps me be consistent.

I don't necessarily recommend you follow my exact suggestions, but I
think my methodology was pretty good:

1. Ask lots of specific questions, like "what should my line length be?
What should the font size be?"
2. Write down your decisions.
3. Collect books, both for good examples and for warnings about what
*not* to do.


Joe Malin
Technical Writer
(408)625-1623
jmalin -at- tuvox -dot- com
www.tuvox.com
The views expressed in this document are those of the sender, and do not
necessarily reflect those of TuVox, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+jmalin=tuvox -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On Behalf
Of Lisa C. Boyd
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2005 11:23 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Style guides?

Being new to technical writing and wanting to do things right from the
start, what style guides do you recommend? Recent discussions on the
list have tested me in what I thought were the right ways to write
terms. So what are the "must haves" in style guides?

Thanks and Merry Christmas,
Lisa B.
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