Re: technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: technical Writing Skills
From: Bex <rebeccaf -at- COMPNEWS -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 14:37:11 +0000

On Mon, 30 Jan 1995, Geoffrey Marnell wrote:

> Judging by the advertisements for technical writers - contractors and
> permanents - the principal skill sought is technical expertise or
> knowledge (often of some programming language or operating system).
> Writing skills appear to take the back seat. In view of the fact that it
> can take a moderately intelligent person weeks to master a new system,
> but years to master clarity and precision in writing, this ranking of
> skills seems, on the face of it, a trifle perverse. What do technical
> writers think about this? If you were the client (not the 'server'),
> would you prefer a technical whizz who could also write well, or a
> good writer who was also cluey in the technical realm? (Don't cheat and

How good a writer is the technical whizz and how cluey is the good writer?

> say both: you are asked, here, to RANK the two skills: writing expertise
> versus technical expertise.)

I'd say it depends on how much you already understand about the
If you just need a bit of reference material then you'd probably be
able to pick out what you need from the material provided by a technical
whizz, whether or not they could write well, whereas if you understand
only a little, you'd need everything to be carefully written before you
could even think about technical whizziness. As we were taught at
technical writing college: The audience is the most important
thing to take into consideration when planning docs. So you can
rank writing expertise v technical expertise for each individual
situation but not as a universal truth.

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