focus so deeply on DTP.

Subject: focus so deeply on DTP.
From: diane haugen <dhaugen -at- BARNESVILLE -dot- POLARISTEL -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 4 Nov 1995 15:04:38 +0000

In a message dated 95-11-03 Kris Olberg writes

>I get irritated when our profession is reduced to page layout, design, and
>>desktop publishing. I am a writer, not a desktop publisher. I think it's
>bad >for our profession to focus so deeply on DTP.

>I suppose the issue is that many clients don't have the resources to supply a
>desktop publishing resource to supplement the process. They could be
>educated. We need to continue to educate them. And when a cost/benefit
>analysis shows (which will not be the case for all clients) the cost savings
>rendered by allowing the writer to focusing on the writing, not the DTP, the
>writer should be allowed to use software of choice.

I am surprised that as a technical writer, you do not consider the design
of the page an integral part of the writing process. Desktop publishing
software has revolutionized the publishing industry for the very reason
that it is a tool that allows the blending of what was once two separate
tasks, the writing and the layout and design of the printed page.

This blending has its advantages and its disadvantages. One problem is
that with desktop publishing software, anyone can slap text and graphics on
a page with little understanding of how placement can enhance understanding
of the text, or worse, totally confuse the reader. The tremendous
advantage for technical writers is that this kind of software allows the
writer to try different layouts to see what works best, what clarifies the
explanations best, what makes the text most understandable, what makes the
page inviting to the user. The technical writer, then, actually has some
control over the format of the document, and in fact, may actually be
requested to design a page template. What technical writer could ask for

I have written and designed books and manuals in Pagemaker and wouldn't
consider handling both text and graphics in anything but a software program
with the capabilities of Pagemaker. One of my projects included the
importation of CAD-generated E size drawings into a Pagemaker document on
my mac. The flexibility of these kinds of layout programs is tremendous,
and getting greater all the time.

For the most part, I deliver camera-ready copy to my clients, and they
don't really care what software I use, as long as in its final form they
can load it onto their computers, or store the copy on a removable
cartridge from which any prepress house can run off a copy.

Should technical writers feel compelled to confine themselves to words
alone? I would hope not.

Diane Haugen
Whiskey Creek Document Design

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