Re: Most Important Programs to Learn

Subject: Re: Most Important Programs to Learn
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1993 19:35:35 GMT

Christy Yoder <yodercb3 -at- expert -dot- cc -dot- purdue -dot- edu> wrote:
> I have a quick question to the working world out there. What programs
> are essential for a new worker in the Professional Writing world to know?

Depends on the job you want -- particularly the extent to which
it encompasses illustration and layout rather than just writing.

For a straight-up writing job, or even one with some lightweight
illustration and layout requirements, I'd settle for someone who
is "computer literate" in the sense of turning to the computer
first for those tasks for which it is appropriate, and learning
it in an efficient and familiar way. Today this usually implies
experience with some popular word processor.

For some jobs, though -- and the situation may be much more
stringent for contractors in technical publications or for
career employees in "one-man band" scenarios -- specific software
skills may be required. The appropriate software will vary from
one company to another, as will the level of expertise needed.
They may be looking for someone who can think, organize and
select information, write effectively, and learn their software.
Then again, they may be looking primarily for someone who can "hit
the ground running" in their specific environment.

I'd say, become quite familiar with one high-end word processor,
use one graphics program to the point of basic competence, and
get your feet wet in some desktop publishing program. Pick up
deeper competence and additional programs as time and interests

If hiring an entry-level writer, I'd place a lot less emphasis
on this sort of thing than on writing skills and evidence of
ability to assimilate technical matter with understanding and
interest. If you find someone with the potential to become a
really solid professional writer, you can teach her to use
your software. Finding someone who can make PageMaker stand
on its head but and turning him into an effective, self-
motivated gatherer and explainer of technical material is tougher.


"Humility is something that I've always prided myself on."
-- Dallas quarterback Bernie Kosar, 10 Nov 1993

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