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Subject:SUMMARY: The biggest lies in Technical Writing From:John David Hickey <jdavid -at- FARABI -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 22 Sep 1998 10:24:19 -0400
I AM THE SUMMARY KING TODAY!
Here's a summary of a thread from about a month ago about the biggest lies
in technical writing.
"I'll have the review and redlines to you by COB today"
"I'll take it along and read it on the plane."
"I'll read it over the weekend."
"I'll return this to you, with my comments, by the end of the week"?
On Monday: We need it by Friday (after doing a little digging, you
discover that they've known about this project for 6 weeks, but are only
getting around to telling you now. More digging reveals that they can
really wait until next week).
"Nobody reads the manuals, anyway!"
"Code will be frozen 12 weeks before your document is due."
There's plenty of time in the schedule for these changes.
I don't really have an opinion on how you labelled those controls.
One space, two spaces. It doesn't matter to me.
We're ordering you a faster computer and a 21" monitor tomorrow.
"Our company takes great pride in its technical documentation."
"We've never had any complaints about our documentation."
"You'll have the full support of upper management."
"We're very committed here to producing top of the line documentation."
"Our TWs are respected members of the development team."
"You'll have the opportunity to learn the latest tools here."
"We're going to be moving to online documentation within the next six
"What do you mean you need to know the product name now? Can't you just do a
search & replace right before you go to the printer?"
"Nobody expects you to take notes or write up the minutes if you attend our
"The style guide covers every possible situation"
"The manual is the first thing that the user goes to after installing the
"Our readers always notice and care deeply if there are two spaces after a
period, if bullets are square instead of round, and if the font is Verdana
instead of Arial"
"Your pay is within close range of the developer's"
"You'll never perform a non-writing task"
"Designers and developers will ask for and respect your opinion on GUI
design, layout, and functionality"
"You should having a fully-functional product in your hands in plenty of
time to complete your document"
"Don't worry. Your document probably will not need to be translated"
"The product's so intuitive, it practically writes the manual itself"
"Nobody here is going to offer anything but constructive criticism about
your work. There are no ego problems. We're a team"
"Your computer and software is every bit up-to-date as the ones they have in
"You won't be thought of as a nuisance by the SME's. They accept that
you're a peer and respect that you have a job to do."
"You don't need to know anything about a computer except how to turn it on
and work the word processor"
"The work is simple. Just write down what the thing does and how to do it."
"Oh, there's just one major feature change and some bug fixes."
"Take it from me..."
This is the latest copy...
It's still in review...
It's at the printer...
It's due back from the printer today...
We're going to make the deadline...
This is the latest copy of the software.
Take it from me, this is how the feature is going to work.
All the information you need is in the specs.
Don't worry. You'll get my comments on your manual tomorrow. I swear.
The procedure should only take a page, two at the most.
We are an equal opportunity employer.
We're all just one big happy family.
We have no lawsuits pending.
Our stock options are growing, and you can purchase on the employee plan.
Communication is our priority.
Teamwork is our middle name.
"The software is frozen."
As the tech writer at our company, you will have full, unrestricted access
to the development team's time."
I'd make that more abstract. "We'll make sure you have everything you need
to get the job done."
"As the tech writer at our company, you will have full, unrestricted access
to the devleopment team's time and resources."