Re: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?

Subject: Re: Baseline Skillset for Technical Writers?
From: Sandy Harris <sharris -at- dkl -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1999 09:47:06 -0500

Anthony Markatos wrote:
> Horace Smith said:
> Technical Writer is two words. If you aren't technical, how can you write
> about something technical? .....
> Tony Markatos responds:
> Easily. The primary thing that a TW has to do is to determine the essential
> end-user tasks accomplished with the product and how all of those tasks
> interrelate. The determination of the interrelationships is especially
> important.

This depends enormously on the type of doc you're writing. What you say is
dead on for a "user guide" type of doc, and utter nonsense for a "reference

> You may have to know some stuff about technology; however, that is
> secondary.

For a reference manual, it is primary. You need to understand the technology
at least as well as users do, typically much better.

Even for a user guide, you should understand the product, and the technology
behind it, well.

> (In fact, a pretty good manual can often be written without any
> knowledge of the technology employed.)

Occasionally an acceptable end-user guide can be written that way.

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