Re: Breaking into the tech writing job market

Subject: Re: Breaking into the tech writing job market
From: "Damien Braniff" <Damien -dot- Braniff -at- asg -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2006 15:28:28 +0100

When I started many moons ago, I was told to treat you audience as
idiots unless you know different. If they are, then they'll get what
they want; if they're not, they me be a bit peeved but they'll skim and
get what they want.

The important thing here is 'unless you know different'. Ideally we'll
know exactly who we're writing for but the trouble is there's no such
thing as a truly homogenous audience. Usually you pitch it at the
'majority' level, covering as much of your audience as possible. It's
the old know you audience principle - once you know that you know the
level you need to write to. Even then, if sixth grade means keeping it
simple, I'm all for it - give them what they need.

It can be simple, regardless of the audience (it's all relative!). For
example, a procedure may include 10 steps:
1 Do X
2 Do Y etc
Each step may have an accompanying description, screenshot, jargon
explained etc and this is determined by the 'level' of the audience. For
novices you might include a lot, including screenshots at each stage to
let them see they're doing it right. At the power user end you might
include no screenshots etc.

Damien Braniff
Sr. Technical Writer
damienb -at- asg -dot- com

Waterfront Plaza
8, Lagan Bank Road
Belfast, N. Ireland BT1 3LR
Tel: +44 (0) 28.9072.3124
Fax: +44 (0) 28.9072.3324



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