Re: Technical Writing Skills

Subject: Re: Technical Writing Skills
From: Mike Beyries <beyries -at- THELMA -dot- CSISDN -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 11:41:02 -0800

Paul's informative contribution to this discussion included:

>What also frustrates many writers is the struggle to gain acceptance
>of the idea that the design and implementation of quality
>documentation require skills as valuable and as specialised as those
>required, for example, for the design and implementation of computer
>software. When it comes to the production of quality documentation,
>these skills are more valuable than specific technical knowledge. I am
>not, however, arguing that writers should write from a position of
>ignorance. One of the most important skills a good technical writer
>has is the ability to research a new subject and quickly gain an
>understanding of it. This will entail making effective use of
>technical information provided by technical experts. It is not usually
>necessary to absorb _all_ the newest developments in
>telecommunications to write effective user documentation, even for
>telecommunications products.

I quite agree. I would add that some of the skills/qualities I have
tried to cultivate and that I've looked for in recruiting other
writers include:

(a) an ability to "role-play" so as to understand and address
the concerns of the audience(s)
(b) a curiosity and willingness to learn new things -- and some
indication that this is possible (a degree may be one indication)
(c) people skills that can put Subject Matter Experts at ease (e.g.,
if the writer is technically knowledgable, not to compete/challenge)
(d) a willingness to "ask the stupid question" and even the willingness
to demonstrate ignorance in the name of the cause

Mike Beyries (beyries -at- csisdn -dot- com)
Technical Communications and Development Support
Information Resource Engineering, Inc. (IRE)
Mountain View, CA U.S.A. (415) 903-2589
This is *NOT* IRE's opinion

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