Lone writers and style guides

Subject: Lone writers and style guides
From: Naomi Bilodeau <naomi -at- GNQS -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 10:45:13 +0000


A small point in favour of the Microsft Manual of Style that has not come
up in this overlong thread:

I was the first Technical Writer in the history of history itself to be
hired by my previous employer. There was no Documentation Department, no
Corporate Style Guide, just my word against the developers.

The Microsoft Manual of Style was an excellent book to wave at them when I
needed to win an argument about terminology. As a starting point, the MS
book is relatively inexpensive, comes with a handy disk to throw the
contents online for quick reference, and best of all, it was in my local
bookshop when I needed a copy. (It is also quite heavy and can be used as
a threat if the argument gets heated :) As a mere lone writer and relative
newcomer to the company, the MS style guide gave me a bit more clout. If I
didn't agree with its Style recommendation, well, then I didn't wave the
Book about. None of the developers wanted to read that thing!

To be fair, any other software documentation style guide would have
probably done as well. But the Microsoft Manual of Style was available. It
was also an easy sell to a company that (partially) hired me because I
was willing to work with the tool they gave me, even if the tool was Word.

Another point no one else has brought up is that the MS Style Guide
doubles as humour. There's an entry in there somewhere about how one
should Never Ever refer to software as 'failing'. Hardware fails.
Microsoft software simply ceases to respond... (Yeah, and *ladies* don't
sweat either ;)

My two cents.

Naomi (writer, astronomer, itinerant scribe...)

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