Re: Pencil Test for Technical Writers

Subject: Re: Pencil Test for Technical Writers
From: Martyn Thirlway <thirlwaym -at- USOFT -dot- NL>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 09:31:00 PDT

Michael Wing wrote at length about a "pencil test" for tech writer
applicants. I for one applaud this idea. The number of unskilled people =

Some years ago, I was responsible for hiring new authors.I gave them a
pencil test to desxcribe "How to boil an egg". The results were very
interesting, ranging from "Put it in water for three minutes" (almost) to a
list of "what you will need", clear instructions, warnings about hot water,
and even an appendix with relative cooking times for ostrich, duck, hen,
turkey, etc. eggs.

It certainly showed who could write, who could analyse, who had a sense of
humour, and, no less important, who would fit into the current team best.
Mind you, some of the so-called writers were very surprised that there was a
test at all.

Martyn Thirlway
thirlwaym -at- usoft -dot- nl
Author of "Writing Software Documentation - A Practical Guide"
["This writing business, pencils and what-not. Overrated if you ask me."

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