Re: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?

Subject: Re: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
From: "Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: WGrega -at- intelisys -dot- com, techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1999 09:37:07 PST

Will Grega asks:

I am attempting to articulate the definitive baseline set of skills a
technical writer should have, apart from anything industry-specific. I'm curious to survey what my colleagues think about this.

Tony Markatos responds:

I recently reviewed several books that supposedly explain "what a Technical Writer" does. None where able to identify the main things that need to be done. The common explanation - "Research, organize, design, etc." - does not identify the main things that need to be done.

Below is my definition. I don't think you will not find another definition that so "hits the nail on the head".

Following it, the primary skills required are described. Here also, you will not find any other like statement.

WHAT A TECHNICAL WRITER NEEDS TO DO.

The primary things that must be done to create clear and concise documentation is to get a rigorous understanding of:

1.) The essential end-user tasks accomplished using the product and how all of those tasks interrelate. Especially important is understanding the interrelationships.

2.) The essential data relationships.

PRIMARY SKILLS REQUIRED

The ability to perform (often) difficult analysis and then, as the situation dictates, switch mental-gears and become very people oriented (read: a strong negotiator). The ability to "switch mental-gears" is the crux of it all. Many have excellent analytical skills. Many have good people skills. Very few have the ability to frequently switch back-and-forth between the two mind-sets involved.

Tony Markatos
(tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com)




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