Re: TW Training Topics???

Subject: Re: TW Training Topics???
From: Adam Rochmes <rochmes -at- WP-CONSULTING -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 May 1996 13:09:11 -0700

>A colleague of mine is preparing an introductory in-house
>tech-writing course for engineers. If you were volunteering
>to take (or had to give) such a course, what are the ten
>most important topics you would like to see covered? (I.e.,
>what are the major stumbling blocks to clear writing
>that you've observed with yourself, your colleagues, or
>your students?)
>For context, what is your role in tech writing? Any
>comments?

Topics might differ depending on the kind of materials the students want to
write.

(1) Taking the audience's point of view. For all writing, this is the most
important topic, and probably the most difficult for anyone deeply immersed
in the subject they're writing about. It's the foundation for most other
topics, such as determining the information needs of different audience
segments (including what they already know and won't need to be told) and,
when writing instructions, organizing tasks according to the users' goals
rather than the system's features.

(2) Organizing ideas. (what's the main point? secondary points?)

(3) Using plain language. (using active voice and present tense, avoiding
noun clumps and unecessary terms)

(4) Writing concisely/avoiding repetition.

(5) Using familiar names.

(6) Providing overviews and context

For writing instructions:

(7) Breaking tasks down into discreet steps.

(8) Presenting steps in chronological sequence.

(9) Anticipating what problems can arise and helping people avoid or remedy
them.

(10) Choosing a good technical communicator. (I wouldn't dream of doing
engineering; I hope the engineers aren't planning to write manuals.)

For context, I write manuals and online help, train writers, (including
workshops on writing procedures), and consult on making documentation more
usable and concise.

Hope this helps,
Adam Rochmes
(rochmes -at- wp-consulting -dot- com)

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