Re: technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: technical Writing Skills
From: Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 09:41:42 EST

Geoffrey Marnel 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.

I think that goes back to a perception that's common in our society: "Anybody
can write."

The basis is reasoning such as: "I took writing courses in high school and
college, I wrote term papers and got good grades, I know how to work a word
processor, I can write." And people who think like that also assume that
everybody else can write, as well.

I can remember, on many an occasion, sitting in a meeting to review the
content of an Air Force tech manual that was in-work. On one side of the table,
a row of USAF uniforms, all experts on the equipment. On the other side of
the table, a row of company people who were, with one exception, all -retired-
USAF people and experts on the equipment. (Including the writer of the manual.)

The one exception: Me, career civilian, but also career tech writer.

Many times, we'd reach a point where the USAF types would say "That instruction
isn't clear." There'd be a long, dead silence as everyone pondered better
wording, while a clear solution seemed obvious to me. So, I'd pipe up with "How
about we say........" Heads would not, pens would scribble. The writing skill,
not the technical skill, had come through again.

Rick Lippincott
Eaton Semiconductor
Beverly, MA
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com

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