Re: Style Manuals

Subject: Re: Style Manuals
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 10:55:21 -0500


> If everyone was stuffing the SUN guide down writers throats, instead of offering
> good, common sense writing advice (we are supposed to be writers before we are
> technical writers -- can't have one without the other) I would be complaining
> about that too.

If you want to be picky...if you are a writer before you are a tech
writer, you DO have one without the other. You have a writer, then later
you have a tech writer. :-)

> >Not "manuals", but only manuals for/about their products.
> Then why are people on this list recommending using the Microsoft Manual of
> Style for any manual? People who are asking writing questions are NOT writing
> about Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, so why are people suggesting the Microsoft
> Manual of Style, if, as you say Microsoft only wants to control manuals about
> their products? And, once again, I say they should just give away that

I should have been clearer. If an application by XYZ Company is a
Windows app, it has guidelines that it must followed about how it looks.
Again, MS has a book out called "The Windows Interface Guidelines for
Software Design" I have a copy. Thick book, about 525 pages.

This guideline is the developer's conterpart to the MS styleguide that
we've been discussing. It gives guidelines on how Windows and Windows
apps should look on the screen.

Therefore, if the look of an app, whether written by MS or XYZ Company
conforms to specific guidelines, so should the documentation, whether
written by MS or XYZ Comp.

> documentation and eliminate some of our jobs, since their technical writers are
> obviously more in tuned with the way technical writing should be. Maybe if we
> lost our livelihoods because Microsoft can do it better, then more people like
> you would see the Microsoft monopoly for what it is.
> >The "good old days" are just that...old.
> >The language of technology is changing so quickly that IMHO, S&W,
> >Chicago, and several others are obsolet
> I am sure that the first technical writers, many decades ago would argue this
> with you. The language of technology may be changing (and how many of us have

I don't care about the tech writers many decades ago.

> seen technical jargon come and go?) but English language and grammar changes

If you think it changes very little and very slowly, hang out at a bar
in the middle of Silicon Valley on a Friday night when most of our
audience is handing together. I did when I lived in CA and worked in the
Bay area. You would think you came from another country...and we are
writing for them. Pick up a copy of Wired. It is VERY different, yet
just as valid and credible to its intended audience as something from
STC is to us.

> very little and very slowly and the people who read our manuals still read and
> speak English, not Microsoftish. The day the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk
> and White (which has been around since 1919 or so) become obsolete is the day
> that writers become obsolete.

No, I'm not obsolete because a book written in 1919 is obsolete...I just
prefer to evolve to more current material. If you spoke like someone
from 1919, how would people around you view you. Why should I write like
someone from 1919?

John Posada, Technical Writer
Bellcore, where Customer Satisfaction is our number one priority
mailto:john -at- tdandw -dot- com mailto:jposada -at- notes -dot- cc -dot- bellcore -dot- com
phone(w) 732-699-3077 phone(h) 732-2910-7811
alpha-pager: 800-864-8444 pin 1857522
email pager: mailto:1857522 -at- pagemart -dot- net
My opinions are mine, and neither you nor my company can take credit for
"Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish,
and he will sit in a boat and smoke cigars all day."
"The only perfect document I ever created is still on my hard drive."

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