Re: technical writer info

Subject: Re: technical writer info
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 3 Mar 1994 08:15:37 CST

For Cinty Li, et al:

Sure, you can be a technical writer. Most journalist skills
and knowledge will serve you well as a technical writer. You will
have to interview Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), research topics,
design (layout) documents, and so on.

One area in which you may require training is Task Analysis.
Task Analysis is a method of identifying your audience, the skills and
knowledge you can expect them to bring to their reading of any given
document, and of disecting any job or activity into components requiring

Another skill you must acquire is document project management.
It sounds daunting, but it involves estimating document size and the
time required to design, create, edit, and produce the finished
document; scheduling these activities; and managing your time to
ensure you meet deadlines. You should already know some of this,
but not for book-length projects. So your formulas need updating.

Document Design is another skill you require. Easy to
read layouts aren't all you must be able to achieve.

A good way to start learning all this is to obtain and study
a copy of _DDM:__The_Documentation_Development_Methodology_. You
can obtain a copy for $38US from:

Sandra Pakin & Associates, Inc.
Publications Division
6007 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60660
(312) 271-2848

Also check the catalog(s) of your local colleges and
universities for technical writing courses. You might take a few
of those courses that teach skills and knowledge you don't already

You might also check Eric Ray's log files for TECHWR-L.
A number of subscribers have recommended some very good reference
texts, like the University of Chicago Manual of Style. To get
an index of the log files, send a message to:


Leave the Subject of your message BLANK! Enter the following
command as the only line in the body of your message:


You can obtain individual log files by following the instructions
in the index you receive from LISTSERV -at- OSUVM1 -dot- BITNET -dot-

Finally, you might join the Society for Technical
Communication. You can contact the local chapter nearest you
by contacting one of the following people (Sorry, my knowledge
of Canadian geography isn't complete enough to know which of these
people is closest to you in London.):

Eastern Ontario Chapter (Ottawa)
Brian R. Keith
(613) 828-5912

Southwestern Ontario Chapter (Waterloo)
James G. Varney
(519) 725-0452

Toronto Chapter
H. Joan Lee
(416) 926-3402

The STC provides a number of benefits to aspiring tech
writers. Mentoring, seminars, reference texts, monthly meetings
with networking and presentations are just a few.

The annual dues are $85US and include subscriptions to
the STC quarterly journal, monthly newsletter, and monthly chapter

I hope all of this helps you decide on joining the Technical
Communication profession.

Best Regards!

Chuck Banks
__ ________ ______
|\\ | || // Chuck Banks
| \\ | ||_______ || Senior Technical Writer
| \\ | || || NEC America, Inc.
| \\| \\______ \\______ E-Mail: chuck -at- asl -dot- dl -dot- nec -dot- com
America, Incorporated CompuServe: 72520,411

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