Re: Technical Writing vs Knowledge

Subject: Re: Technical Writing vs Knowledge
From: Brian Daley <briand -at- MEI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1993 09:03:32 -0600

Kris writes:

>As an operator
>manual writer at the same company as Brian, I guess I disagree with him on
>most of the points he's raised, except a little bit of the theory of
>operation comments above.

So, shall we start a flame war within our own company? (I can say that
because I know Kris won't take it the wrong way =:-) Who knows? maybe
my opinions will change because of this!)

BTW the original question was the technical background. So if you want to
write operator manuals, the answer must be "writing over technical" and if
you want to write service manuals, the answer must be "we could argue this

>Engineers at our company are very busy (by the way -- engineers at our
>company are both hes and shes)

Sorry, did I has "He"? No offense intended.

, but it's as much their obligation as ours
>to make sure those who use and service our equipment have the most
>complete, readable, accurate documentation possible. Everyone involved in
>producing the product (engineering, marketing, technical writing,
>manufacturing, service, etc) should be considered a team (we all have
>talents to bring to the product development and production process) and
>work together to produce the best we possibly can for our customers.

That's a nice theory, and we're working toward it, but in reality some
"teams" operate differently than others, and some are virtually nonexistent

>>So, can you do whatever you want? To be honest, and maybe I'm missing the
>>boat, I don't see a whole lot of art in the manuals we produce. Sure,
>>there's good and bad design aspects, but to call writing a step-by step
>>adjustment procedure doesn't seem like art to me.

>As far as not seeing any art in the manuals we produce, I strongly
>disagree. Technical manuals are an art form in and of themselves. Just
>take a look at a poorly written and designed manual vs a well-written and
>well-designed manual. Technical writing is one of *the* most difficult
>forms of writing because it offers the writer little opportunity to deviate
>from a step-by-step approach, but each writer brings their own style and
>artistry to the overall design, presentation, use of graphics, and just
>simply deciding what's the best way to communicate the procedure to an
>audience that you know very well.

But here we are developing and revising document standards that restrict
our creativity, forcing us to follow set guidelings in manual content and
format in the best interest of consistency and company image. We can be
creative to an extent while we design new formats, but then we're stifled
again until ne next (painful) revision of the doc standards.

So maybe I'm creating art after all. I don't know.




"What matters is not DOW's average, but YOUR average."

- commentator Jim Hightower, WTMJ Radio


Brian Daley | Marquette Electronics, Inc.
briand -at- mei -dot- com | Diagnostic Division - Technical Communication
(414) 362-3133 | 8200 West Tower Avenue
FAX: (414) 357-5988 | Milwaukee, WI 53223 USA

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