Core skills for technical communicators

Subject: Core skills for technical communicators
From: "Larry Kunz ((919) 254-6395)" <ldkunz -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 14:45:59 EST

The newest Writer's Block, recently announced on this list
(, contains an
article titled "Reviewing a technical writer's performance" by
Anton Holland. The article is interesting in light of our
off-and-on discussion of what our profession's core skills are.

Holland lists eight criteria a manager can use to appraise a
technical communicator (quoting verbatim):

- The ability to translate a morass of technical details into a
clear hierarchy of concepts
- Knowledge and attention to document design
- Consistency in editing
- Ability to plan one's workload
- Proper and consistent reporting habits
- Establishing and maintaining a good rapport with clients
- Good knowledge of documentation tools
- Desire and ability to learn new concepts

It's a pretty good list, although the longer I look at it the more
I feel like rewording, reshuffling, and generally messing around
with it. I'm glad, at least, that the next-to-last item doesn't
say "Ability to use (name-of-your-favorite-DTP-system-here)."

Comments? Would (should) the list be any different if we were
talking about hiring technical communicators, as opposed to
appraising them?

BTW, the same Writer's Block carries a feature article that
refers -- I am not making this up -- to a study of the human
brain done by a Professor Hare. The rest of the pun is left
as an exercise for the reader.

Larry Kunz
STC Assistant to the President for Professional Development
ldkunz -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com

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