TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
> >From: Nancy Burns <nburns -at- NOAO -dot- EDU>
> >Subject: Re: Figures
> >>I'm just curious (some would say *extremely* curious indeed, but that's
> >>another story...), how do the folks on the list handle figures in their
> >>documents? I used to do sketches and let designers handle it, and even
> >>then I did figures as an afterthought, after the text was finished.
> >>How do the rest of you work? Do you use a lot of figures? How do you
> >>develop them? In the document cycle, when do you develop them? Do you
> >>include them in technical reviews?
> >>|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |
> >I usually develop the concept of a figure during the early draft stage and
> >then create the actual figure, using a drawing program, when I have enough
> >Nancy Burns
Interesting points of view.
I have done a fair bit of hardware technical writing amongst my software
The first stage of component-level hw tech writing is to sit down with
the machine in question (I prefer to write service manuals for entire
computers) and take the thing apart. Several times.
Then I sit down and draw the machine from the perspectives I'll need.
Rear view, side views, top view. Then I draw all the major components
that are to be replaced and all the cables. Then I draw the layout of
the cables for the machine in a variety of configurations.
When I've got all the drawing done I begin to do the writing.
I think it's next to impossible to do a good field service manual without
following a similar procedure. One has to take the machine apart.
The rough drawings (all hand done because it's much quicker that way)
I then pass on to an artist/mech CAD person to put into a drawing program.
I then import the graphic into FrameMaker. In the draft documents I use
my hand-drawn views.
Unless there is a _very_ good reason, my drawings are rendered exactly
into the CAD program (I don't want any surprises).
A picture is worth a thousand words, after all.
I cannot imagine writing such a manual before doing the drawing work.
To my mind the drawings would necessarily be a less-than-useful adjunct
and the writing in the manual unecessarily verbose..
dba Art & Science
Consulting Hardware and Software Technical Writing