Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer

Subject: Re: Culture, or What it means to be a Technical Writer
From: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- OMNIMARK -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 8 May 1998 09:57:42 -0400

Katherin King wrote:


>Usually when I explain to people what I do as a tech writer I say that
>I'm a "translator," taking complex, convoluted engineering stuff and
>turning it into understandable English. That, to me, is the challenge
>and thrill of being a technical writer: "How can I take this engineering
>functional spec and translate it into something clear, concise,
>task-oriented and interesting?" When I put it like that, it makes sense
>to the person I'm talking to and they think it's really cool.


While this may well be an effective way of answering the what-do-you-do
question at a party, I trust we all understand that this is not what we are
supposed to do. A good user guide is not, by any stretch of the imagination,
a functional specification with the engineering jargon translated into
English. A functional spec tells you how to build a product. A user guide
tells you how to use a product. These are very different activities. A
functional spec is a best part of the source material we consult as we write
an entirely new document with an entirely new purpose.

---
Mark Baker
Manager, Corporate Communications
OmniMark Technologies Corporation
1400 Blair Place
Gloucester, Ontario
Canada, K1J 9B8
Phone: 613-745-4242
Fax: 613-745-5560
Email mbaker -at- omnimark -dot- com
Web: http://www.omnimark.com




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