Re: Incorrectly read instructions - and other problems

Subject: Re: Incorrectly read instructions - and other problems
From: Maurice King <benadam -at- CYBERDUDE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 09:02:02 -0400


Your detailed response was excellent. I only wish the project managers would read it!

One comment you made I feel deserves special emphasis:

>Ask who will be your readers.

It is important to remember that before we are information engineers, usability consultants, or any other such title, we are PROFESSIONAL WRITERS. Regardless of the genre of writing being done, the professional writer ALWAYS determines the reading audience and then writes for that audience. The amateur, in comparison, writes and then says, "Now, where can I find people to read this?" Technical writers have a clearly defined target audience, and if there is any doubt, it is more than legitimate to ask who is the target audience before writing the first word.

Once I worked in a software house in which I felt that the manager of the department was making problems for me, so I put him to the test on this issue. I was writing specs for a system in development, and I asked him who would be reading the documents. When he refused to give me an answer, I knew to change jobs -- and I did! It is impossible to write professional quality work without knowing the target audience, regardless of the area of discipline: journalism, fiction, or technical documentation. The writer who loses sight of this fact doesn't remain a writer for long.

- Maury

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