Re: Help for a new tech writer

Subject: Re: Help for a new tech writer
From: "Gene Kim-Eng" <techwr -at- genek -dot- com>
To: "Jim Mezzanotte" <jmezzanotte -at- wi -dot- rr -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 09:53:49 -0800

I'd worry less about the software and more about the
content. You're going to have enough on your hands
without trying to learn new tools at the same time.

Odds are the most useful structure for this kind of
documentation is going to turn out to be a large
number of relatively short procedures. These may
or may not end up being assembled into a larger
document (they may just end up as separate files
on a network where employees can find them when
needed), so the things that expensive DTP apps
do best, such as multi-chapter organizing and
cross-referencing, may not be needed right away.
You could probably just do the initial release as
small Word or Quark documents published as

For formats for the documents themselves, try
doing a web or other search for similar docs in
the same industry. There really isn't any "one
size fits all" template for manufacturing docs.

Gene Kim-Eng

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Mezzanotte" <jmezzanotte -at- wi -dot- rr -dot- com>
> File this under "careful what you wish for." I've been trying to break
> into
> technical writing, and now I've plunged right into the deep end. I'm
> working
> for someone who is gearing up a manufacturing plant from scratch, and
> he
> needs complete documentation for every operation that will take place
> there.
> Seventy people will be operating the plant when it is up and running.
> My
> background is in print publishing--minimal proficiency in Quark, and
> that's
> it. He's leaving the software choice--and everything else--up to me.
> Am I nuts to take this on? I will be starting slowly, a few days a
> week,
> with research at the plant. All the info I will need is essentially in
> the
> owner's head, so I will be doing extensive interviews with him. But I
> need
> to get the right software and a template to work with so I can at
> least
> start plugging things in to some kind of structure. I'm wondering
> about
> Framemaker or Indesign.
> I know I haven't given much info (I don't have much yet), but anyone
> have
> advice for me?
> --New (mildly panicked) tech writer


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Help for a new tech writer: From: Jim Mezzanotte

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