Re: Ego/personable tech writing

Subject: Re: Ego/personable tech writing
From: kendal stitzel <kensti -at- KENSTI -dot- AUTO-TROL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 1993 08:19:59 MST

> It is refreshing to read a piece that comes across as "friendly".
> Anyone else have thoughts?

At one of my previous tech writing jobs, we tested IBM's BookMaster/
BookManager product. The manual was written for other tech writers who
would use the product to produce online (now is that hyphenated or not?)
manuals from soft copies of printed documents.

The product was OK, but the manual was fantastic. Very personably written,
tasteful use of humor, anything but dry (even though it was a very dry
topic). For example, you could configure the product in a basic or a more
complex fashion. This became the "plain vanilla" and the "mocha" configuration.
I would love to have my own copies of the manual just to show that this
style of tech writing can be done and done well.

Of course the reason IBM's writers could do this was the audience of other
writers. Writers who read the manual were delighted. (Most others were
less enthusiastic.)

I would love to see more manuals like this, but (sigh) most manuals aren't
written with an audience of writers (or similar literati) in mind.

Ken Stitzel (not Ken d'Albenas ;-)
Technical writer
Auto-trol Technology, Denver
(kensti -at- auto-trol -dot- com)

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