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> He said, "we ain't writing literature, you know."
Your question reminds me of a conversation that I heard many years ago, while I was in
college. A professor, teaching a technical writing class, had just advised the class
that misspellings in our assignments would cause us to get lower grades. A student
asked, "What about typos?" as though a certain number of them should be acceptable.
The professor replied something like, "If you don't care enough about your work to
check it for typos, why should I care enough to read it?"
If your colleage doesn't care enough to write clearly, why should I care enough to
read his manual? And if I can't read the manual, I'm not going to buy the product
that the manual supports. I have had little respect for companies that distribute
imprecise technical documentation with their products. I believe that if a company
can't get the documentation right, I can't expect it to get the product right either.
Car-repair manuals are especially frustrating to me. I find the section I need, but
I can't make heads or tails of what the author is trying to say. Now what do I do?
To your colleague's point, no, you're not writing literature. Be sure that you're not
just getting critical over personal style. But if your interest is in ensuring that
useful information is presented in a clear, precise, and meanignful way, then don't
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To send a message about technical communication to 2500+ list readers,
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ALL other questions or problems concerning the list
should go to the listowner, Eric Ray, at ejray -at- ionet -dot- net -dot-