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On 6/12/96, Jennifer Jordan-Henley <JORDAN_JJ -at- A1 -dot- RSCC -dot- CC -dot- TN -dot- US>
asked for input, which I've included below:
>I will be teaching an online technical writing course this fall and
>would like to incorporate as much useful, up-to-date, and personal
>1. What do you wish you had known about the field of technical
>writing *before* you entered it? <snip>...
a. Presentation skills: sometimes important tool in letting others know
what you have done or plan to do, particularly to gain visibility and
respect in your organization, and to persuade management to give you the
resources and support you need.
b. Project planning skills: even if you are not a manager, knowing how to
schedule implement, and evaluate projects will help you figure out what you
need and how the project is progressing.
c. Informational interviwing skills: how to get the information you need
from subject matter experts (who are usually too busy to give it).
d. Team work: understanding your role as a project team member; team
dynamics, listening skills, building rapport.
e. Audience analysis: don't start a project without understanding the needs
of the audience, to whom you are responsible for providing relevant, useful
>2. What advice would you give an aspiring techncal writer?
-Solid writing skills are a must.
- Do volunteer work in the area of tech communications or try an internship
to give you a sense of the many facets of tech comm work.
- Get involved with a professional organization, such as the Society for
Technical Communication (STC), IEEE, American Medical Writers Assoc (AMWA),
Assoc. for Computing Machinery (ACM), so you can network with other tech
- Learn something about online documentation (including Help), the value
usability studies, and multimedia.
- Learn at least one desktop publishing tool (DTP) such as FrameMaker.
- If you aren't comfortable with change or learning new computer tools,
think hard about being a tech writer.
- Never stop learning.
Nancy S. Burns, Technical Writer
National Solar Observatory
e-mail: burns -at- noao -dot- edu
"The reward of a thing well done is to have
done it." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
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