RE: Writing for the U.S. military: Getting started

Subject: RE: Writing for the U.S. military: Getting started
From: "Butler, Darren J CTR USAF AFMC 584 CBSS/GBHDB" <Darren -dot- Butler -dot- ctr -at- Robins -dot- af -dot- mil>
To: "JP Brown" <brofels -at- gmail -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 12:46:59 -0500

Begin by reading the various "Publication Management" manuals, such as
TO 00-5-1 "Air Force Technical Orders". I think that each branch of the
service has its' own. You'll find everything from publications types to
distribution information.
As far as standards and specifications (MIL-STD & MIL-SPECS)
MIL-STD-38784 is the "Magna Charta" from which most MIL-STDs are derived
and is the standard most referenced in other MIL-STDs.
The second most important MIL-STD to be familiar with is MIL-STD 38807,
which address repair parts, and configurations. These two together are
considered to be the "Old Testament & New Testament", "Torah & Talmud"
of most military writing. I encourage you to review the MIL-STDs that
govern publications that are unique ( i.e. quirky) to the military such
as Job Guides, Work Packages and Pre-Flight Checklists.

SGML/XML is becoming the standard for many military publications, but
FrameMaker is still alive and well. Most of the shops I know of use Epic
Editor to author SGML, no one that I know of uses structured FrameMaker
for military books. I've been told that the DTDs are more compatible
with Epic. MS Word is also still used to author books but that is dying
a welcomed death in most arenas. Interactive Electronic Manuals are the
wave of the future but still in its' toddler stage in the Air Force, I
don't know about other services.

-----Original Message-----
From:
techwr-l-bounces+darren -dot- butler -dot- ctr=robins -dot- af -dot- mil -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+darren -dot- butler -dot- ctr=robins -dot- af -dot- mil -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot-
com] On Behalf Of JP Brown
Sent: Monday, November 09, 2009 3:37 PM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Writing for the U.S. military: Getting started

Greetings,

I am an experienced technical writer (commercial) trying desperately
to familiarize myself with the prevailing standards and authoring
tools used to produce U.S. military technical manuals. I'm eager to
expand my professional knowledge to make myself more marketable as a
contract technical writer. I have a couple basic questions I'm hoping
a few of you "blackbelts" can address.

* Standards: Boy are there a lot of standards and specifications
out
there. If you had to pick (or better, rank) the 3 most widely used
military standards (i.e. 38784) for printed manuals, what would they
be?
* Authoring tools: What percentage of manuals would you say are
developed using MS Word vs. some type of XML/SGML tool? Trying to
determine what new tools/schemas I may need to learn.
* Print vs. Online: What percentage of military manuals are
produced
for exclusively print/pdf distribution vs. online?

Many thanks in advance.
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Are you looking for one documentation tool that does it all? Author,
build, test, and publish your Help files with just one easy-to-use tool.
Try the latest Doc-To-Help 2009 v3 risk-free for 30-days at:
http://www.doctohelp.com/

Help and Manual 5: The all-in-one help authoring tool. Full support for
team authoring with multi-user editing - both directly and in combination
with VSS-compatible source control systems. http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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References:
Writing for the U.S. military: Getting started: From: JP Brown

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