Re: The 'user' in User Manual
For a professional writer, grammar is an important tool of the trade. If I am interviewing writers and a candidate cannot tell me what an imperative sentence is, what passive voice is, or why diectic pronouns require clear anticedents,
they don't get hired. Period. No mater how nice they seem or how good their portfolio looks.
The editors, at the time when I started tech writing at a b-i-g software publisher, were grammarhawks who worked as enforcers of the company's style and editorial policies. The company had invested heavily in the development of their original style and editorial guides, which were produced for them by academic authorities who created a customized system of rules, controlled vocabulary, look-and-feels, and so on. The publisher went to all of this trouble and expense because they wanted impeccable credentials in the new software marketplace. I remember the editors as a formidable part of the document review gauntlet, and I think they were often there as one-on-one interviewers to whom I talked, before getting hired (or not) onto a new project. A writer who was easy prey for the grammarhawks would not be long lived at that company, if they ever got in at all.
I think things are more relaxed there now, especially since they ceased putting big pieces of documentation into the shrinkwrapped boxes.
I don't really believe that the majority of my technical audience members cared so much about my formal knowledge of grammar, but as a hired hand I had to produce and discourse with the editors about writing, which could easily have meant talking in formal terms about grammar.
In my case, I never really knew, until I worked with editors, what use I would ever make of my grade school coursework in Latin (with all of its cases and declensions, and voices and moods and modes), and diagramming sentences, and taking composition classes... I was never a language or literary major in college, but I got a big whack of that stuff in prep school.
Then too, it's a technical writer's job to learn things, and most revel in doing so. In my more than 20 years of technical writing, I have never encountered a *talented* technical writer who wasn't eagerly accepting of new knowledge about the tools of the trade or the technology on which they're working.You've said that very well!
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com
Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or printed documentation. Features include single source authoring, team authoring,
Web-based technology, and PDF output. http://www.DocToHelp.com/TechwrlList
Now shipping: Help & Manual 4 with RoboHelp(r) import! New editor,
full Unicode support. Create help files, web-based help and PDF in up
to 106 languages with Help & Manual: http://www.helpandmanual.com
You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit http://lists.techwr-l.com/mailman/options/techwr-l/archive%40infoinfocus.com
To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit
http://www.techwr-l.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.
RE: The 'user' in User Manual: From: Susan W. Gallagher
Previous by Author:
Re: The 'user' in User Manual
Next by Author: Re: Writing User Guide and Help for Wireless Application Portal
Previous by Thread: Re: The 'user' in User Manual
Next by Thread: RE: The 'user' in User Manual
Search our Technical Writing Archives & Magazine