The Greatest Technical Writing Secret Exposed

Subject: The Greatest Technical Writing Secret Exposed
From: Willebeek-Lemair Jason-MCX1616 <jlemair -at- ITEXCHSRV2 -dot- PHX -dot- MCD -dot- MOT -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 10:30:38 -0700

There are no standards.

That is it. That is the big mystery behind technical writing. There is no
standard font or page size. There is no global standard for a user's guide
or reference manual. There are no standards for what goes into a help file
vs. the paper manual.

Yes, some companies do set up standards in the form of style guides,
hopefully based on the accumulated knowledge of working with a particular
audience. But the standards that Fartenblower Software, Inc. follows will
probably not be the same as the ones followed by the writers at Geekzoid
Computer Hardware, LLC. Other organizations, such as the military, impose
standards. Again, these are not global standards.

This ain't no paint-by-the-numbers, fill-in-the-blanks job. If it were, any
schmuck with the proper outline, template, and acceptable word list could do

THAT is why we get paid the big US$1.50 (after taxes). Not to poop out
cookie-cutter documents that adhere to someone's vision of what a user's
guide should be, but to craft information solutions based on the audience,
product, use, and a thousand other variables.

Thank you. I may now be excommunicated from the siblinghood of technical
communicators for exposing this dark secret.


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