Re: What's the Menu?

Subject: Re: What's the Menu?
From: Tom Lange <Tom_Lange -at- CCMAIL -dot- BMC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 14:52:56 CST

Jim, if it is technical in nature, it needs technical writing.

The answer to "what kind?" is very broad. Here is a quick list. All
entries are not parallel in type or kind. Some are subsets or super
sets of others.

PRODUCT FIELDS
You name a field. It needs written about. Here are a few:

Computer
Automobile
Train
Plane
Military
Medical
Procedure writing
Banking
Government
Proposal writing

TYPES WITHIN THOSE FIELDS

Any of the above can be commercial or specification (spec.) writing.
Most companies want commercial for the general public; the military
wants spec. writing, so companies that create military stuff want
spec. writers.

Each field breaks down to some subset. Computer beaks down to Hardware
or Software, Software breaks down to hardcopy (books) or on-line
writing that breaks down to on-line manuals and on-line helps.
Hardcopy breaks down to types of manuals, such as general information
manuals, users guides, brochures, reference manuals, developers or
programmers guides, and many more flavors.


When tech writers ask "what kind?", I might answer, "Oh, either
hardware or software. I don't care which. I switch back and forth
easily. I do all sorts of writing: manuals, on-line documentation, or
helps. It doesn't make much difference. I've done them all.

Now, most people asking the question don't want to hear that kind of
answer. A lot of them don't believe it. They understand their world
and how specialized it is. They expect a short hand answer. However,
as a contractor, I need a broad base so I don't eliminate
opportunities.

As a beginner, you need to pick out which fields you like the best and
concentrate in that area. In addition to your field of INTEREST, you
need to consider you field of EXPERTISE. Is it computer? Hardware? or
Software? You will find the first job faster if you stick with your
field of expertise.
Would you rather do books or helps? Once you decide, you can do the
short hand version of an answer with something like on-line helps,
software manuals, hardware manuals, mil specs, auto repair manuals,
or banking procedures.

Good Luck!

Just one Texan's opinion.

Tom Lange
tom_lange -at- ccmail -dot- bmc -dot- com




______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: What's the Menu?
Author: Jxbarton -at- AOL -dot- COM at unixlink
Date: 2/1/96 7:22 AM


A few months ago, I told someone at an STC gathering that I switching careers
and would soon be looking for an entry level tech writing job. "What kind?",
they asked brusquely, and looked at me. I looked back in shock. I wanted to
ask "What's the menu?", but my courage failed me, so I mumbled something
about how I was just starting out, and didn't have a good sense of that yet.

So I hereby ask: What IS the menu? Is there a consensus on the kinds of tech
writing? If not, does someone want to venture a classification scheme? What
are the five ( or 20) main types or sub-specialties of tech writing? Any tips
on how they differ in terms of training needed, traits desired, and/or how
well they pay are welcome.

If you reply to me, I'll summarize the answers received by Friday, Feb. 9th
and post them over the weekend.

Jim Barton
jxbarton -at- aol -dot- com


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