Re: Top ten books to own

Subject: Re: Top ten books to own
From: "John M. Gear" <catalyst -at- PACIFIER -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 1995 22:25:00 PST

I am interested in discovering what
> other technical writers feel are the top ten books that every technical writer
> should either own or have read. I look forward to receiving your replies.

I am just now reading and enjoying "The Fine Art of Technical Writing" by
Carol Rosenblum Perry (Blue Heron, 1991, isbn 0-926085-24-X) very, very much
and it will be the text the next time I teach sui generis TW. Could be
*the* desert island TW book (the one to take on a desert island when you can
only take one).

I think Richard Saul Wurman's "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" (data not
available, it's in here somewhere but I can't find it right this minute!)
should be considered. May not make the top ten list after all the other
nominees are in but it's a worthy stab at thinking about "how to give, get,
and use instructions."

Both of Edward Tufte's books ("The Visual Display of Quantitative
Information" and "Envisioning Information") seem essential to me and I'm
completely and totally graphically inept. What they teach is helpful for
anyone interested in clear communication without distortion, whether they
use words or not.

William Zinnser's classic "On Writing Well" is actually a classic worthy of
the name. My copy is on loan so I don't have the pub data but I know it's
in print and revised fairly regularly in fact.

I have often daydreamed about teaching a TW course using Bill Lutz'
"Doublespeak" as a text. Don't know if it would make a top ten list for TW
but it sure ought to be read by anyone whose technical writing takes them
outside the boundaries of product documentation (and wouldn't hurt those who
write product documentation and instructions at all). Same song about the
data; it's around but your friendly librarian can find the numbers for you
faster than I can.

My opinions only, your mileage may vary. Good question.

John Gear

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