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No one has mentioned it so far, but if you're working in the medical realm
with hardware and/or software, aren't there liability issues to consider
about incomplete and/or faulty instructions?
I can think of one or two types of hardware that might not expose the
company, but then again with recent hacking problems, even they might not
be out of danger.
This is aside from the numerous other problems you face. Honestly,
Microsoft etc. did not do any of us a favor by getting away with their
buggy software releases.
Peter's suggestions (and his brilliant wife's) sound very good; hope they
On Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 5:38 AM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> I have a new client that produces very expensive hardware/software products
> in the global medical realm. The company is young and angel-funded.
> As if I was coming on full-time, I was interviewed for this position
> quasi-extensively, and then had to sign off on its employee handbook. All
> this to say that it conveys to me that the company has never worked with
> contractors in this capacity before. My handler is an overworked PM who
> barely has time to disseminate clear instructions to me.
> Here's the assignment: edit an updated 151-pg. user manual by mid-January,
> taking into account that the translation house needs unavailable additional
> time to translate the work for the EU and Turkey. I'm having to edit using
> text callouts in Acrobat Proâan extremely tedious process if you can
> imagine (mostly because of the spasmodic behavior of the callouts when one
> attempts to finesse them *just so*). I'm halfway done and cannot get the PM
> to provide me adequate feedback and now she is on leave until the 11th
> attending to a family matter. I do not have permission to reach out to
> anyone else.
> The problem is that the original manual was likely created by an ESL, so
> it's not written in common English as Americans know it. There are no
> pronouns used, for example, and almost every sentence is written in passive
> tense. "The operator" is repeatedly referred to as such, as if it's an
> abstract, impersonal thing; never is "you" placed in an instruction.
> Whoever laid out the manual in InDesign doesn't know the first thing about
> professional typesetting and layout; it shows. An instruction will appear
> on one page, with the accompanying illustration on the next. New sections
> don't begin at the top of a new page, but start willy-nilly at any page
> location. In short, it's the most unprofessional example of a user manual
> I've come across in my entire 25-year career.
> I'm looking for some pre-existing verbiage from somewhere that explains why
> a company's image can be irreparably damaged by publishing and distributing
> such junk. For example, imagine buying a McLaren and receiving an owner's
> manual written by a grade school kid and published on the same sort of thin
> paper as many Bibles are printed on. While you've read and heard (and
> watched) all about McLaren's exceptional engineering, the manual causes you
> to at least raise an eyebrow, if not remark "WTF."
> I know that it's not my decision, but I wouldn't begin to approve release
> of the company's updated whizbang with the manual being in its present
> shape. How can I convince them to take an extra week or so to at least
> accept my edits (the INDD reformatting coming at a later date)? BTW, I've
> already researched another translation house that has the bandwidth to
> crank out my heavily-edited version.
> Oh, and this isn't about my billing (yet). It's more about determining what
> is acceptable from the perspective of the company's own branding and
> outside perception.
> Thanks for your inputs.
> Chris Morton
> â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
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