Re: I need your input - again

Subject: Re: I need your input - again
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995 08:45:52 PST

I wrote:

>>My short definition of technical writing is: "Finding out what the
>>reader needs to know to use a product, and telling it to him."

Herman Holtz wrote:

>I would generalize even further than that and call it, simply,
>writing user instructions.

My definition takes the form it does because I want to keep "telling
the user things he needs to know" at the forefront. Too much documentation
is written on a formalistic basis, with no real interest in the user
or his tasks. A lot of consumer-products manuals have their content
entirely dictated by lawyers these days, it seems. Look at the
pathetic FCC-mandated radio-interference boilerplate at the front
of every electronic equipment manual, or the lame don't-electrocute-
yourself-it-hurts-ouch boilerplate at the front of every 120V appliance
manual. That the information is generally irrelevant to the given
appliance doesn't faze the lawyers or the government one bit.
The formality of having given an approved warning, not the warning's
effectivness in preventing injury or death, is what they care about.

-- Robert

Robert Plamondon * President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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