Re: Help w/TW skills

Subject: Re: Help w/TW skills
From: LynnDianne Beene <lbeene -at- UNM -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 1996 09:44:28 -0700

Your advice is right on the money. . . .or maybe I should
say it matches perfectly what I discovered when I was a
tech writer. But I found all this out by trial and error.
I sure wish there were better ways to teach these interpersonal

BTW, what do you think of Tufte's two books on graphics? Worth
the money for students to have?

Lynn Beene email: lbeene -at- unm -dot- edu
B & F Writers Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123

Is it not, then, better to be ridiculous and friendly than clever and hostile?

On 31 Jan 1996, Karen Gwynn/Datatel wrote:

> Lynn, I know that you will cover the things like writing, but what I don't see
> being taught are:

> **the documentation process (planning, research, *then* writing, rewriting,
> editing, production, maintenance)

> **general common sense graphical design issues: the proper use of bold,
> italics, underlines, etc. Dispelling the old "typewriter" myths of underlining
> heading (assuming you are working with anything other than a typewriter and can
> use different point sizes, type faces, bold, and indenting).

> **and speaking of not using a typewriter: what is a word processor and a DTP?
> You don't have to teach actual tools--although please encourage your students
> to learn at least one--but explain what each does and what you expect from
> them. I believe that once you know what you can *do* with any computer software
> package the learning then becomes how to use a particular company's
> implementation of that software. You need to know that you can add up columns
> of numbers in a spreadsheet before you learn how to do it in Excel or 1-2-3.

> **try to set job/career expectations. Explain what the writer's role is
> (typically) in an organization. If you can, bring in "guest" speakers from
> different areas of tech writing to explain exactly what they do. There's a
> difference between writing software documentation and writing procedures for a
> nuclear reactor.

> **explain how to do research. Explain that you will need to do research. Even
> when your product comes with complete technical specs (dream world), you'll
> still need to talk to people: the engineers/designers/programmers and the users
> of the product. BTW, explain what technical specs are!

> There's probably more, but I'd have to think about it...

> Bottom line, from my very minimal experience with tech writing programs (and I
> hope my experience is not the norm), they teach writing, but they don't explain
> that writing is only part of the job.

> Good luck!

> Karen Gwynn
> kwg -at- datatel -dot- com

> --------------------------Originial Posting------------------------------------
> In the fall semester I'll be teaching technical writing
> in a computer lab for the first time. The students will
> be mostly undergraduates wanting to become professional
> writers and editors. Their writing skills vary greatly,
> from some who are great writers to some who can't recognize
> a sentence fragment from a graphic. As professionals,
> what would you all say are the top skills I should push in
> this class?

> Any and all help will be *greatly*!! appreciated. Thanks!

> Lynn Beene email: lbeene -at- unm -dot- edu
> B & F Writers Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123

> Is it not, then, better to be ridiculous and friendly than clever and hostile?
> --Socrates

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