Technical Writing

ISBN-10: 0028641469
ISBN-13: 9780028641461
Edition: 2001
List price: $16.95
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Book details

List price: $16.95
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 3/1/2001
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 352
Size: 7.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Is This the Job for Me?
The Market Is Booming
What Is a Technical Writer?
A Growing Community
Where You'll Fit In
Exactly What Does a Tech Writer Do?
Can Anyone Be a Tech Writer?
What a Market!
The Shortage of Technical Writers
Making a Living
Making a Difference
What Does a Technical Writer Do, Anyway?
Filling Some Big Shoes
A Tech Writer's Day
Turning "GeekSpeak" Into Plain English
Figuring Out What's First and Putting It There
Writing and Maintaining Documents
Understanding How Things Work
Being a Catalyst for Change
Being Involved in the Design Process
The Technical Writer Is the First End User
Having the "Write" Stuff
But Can You Write?
The "Wow" Factor
"Yes, We Have No Bananas": Communicating Clearly
"Get It?" "Got It!"
Juggling Flaming Sticks
Playing Well with Others
Getting Along
Saying "No"
Saying "Yes"
Being Ready, Willing, and Able
Breaking Into the Field
All Roads Can Lead to Tech Writing
Writer or Techie? Both Can Succeed
The Accidental Tech Writer
Building a Solid Foundation
Master the Basics
Learn the Tools
Proving Yourself
What's in a Writing Test?
Showing Samples
Building a Portfolio
Recast Your Resume
See Yourself as a Professional
Making the Most of What You Have: For the Career Changer
Let's Discuss Degrees
Why Is It So Hard to Get an Interview?
Use a Recruiter
Network, Network, Network
Go to the STC Conference
Winning Interview Tips
Persistence Pays Off
What Makes a Good Document?
"A" Is for Accuracy
Completeness Counts
Make Processes, Documents, and Sets Complete
Completeness Includes Editing and Proofreading
Check for Completeness Early and Often
Clarity Is in Good Writing
Consistency
Having a Handle on Usability
Knowing Usability When You See It
Time and Money Well-Spent
A Natural Career Path for Tech Writers
Keys to Improving Document Usability
Will It Fly? Judging Documents
Classifying Your Documents
When Is a Manual Not a Guide?
Defining the Document Content
Tech Writers, Start Your Engines...
Five Steps to Creating a Technical Document
Step by Step
Gather Information
Plan
Write
Verify
Redo
Creating a Document Plan
Milestones
Getting Started
Your First Assignment: Taking Over a Document
Adopting a Document
Maintenance and Tune-Ups
Out with the Old, In with the New
Knowing What Needs Fixing
How Much Rewriting Should You Do?
Where to Begin--A Plan of Attack
If There's No Time
Break Down Your Schedule
Check Your Progress
No Matter What Happens, Stay Calm
Learning Your Topic
The Importance of Product Knowledge
Getting to Square One
Product Ins and Outs
Leave a Paper Trail
Capture Your "Newbie" Experience
Label Notes Clearly
Keep Notes Based on User Tasks
Ask and Ye Shall Learn
Become an Expert in the Field
Learn the Specifics
Play Around
Meet the People Who Can Help You
Ask to Share the Wealth
Learn About Related or Allied Products
Take Your Time
It's All About Audience
Who Will Read This Document?
Novice User
Power User
Programmer or Software Developer
System Administrator
Matching the User with the Document Type
Fine-Tuning What You Know
What Is My User's Job Title?
What Is My User's Job Function?
What Tasks Is the User Performing with This Program?
How Will the Reader Use the Document? And How Often?
How Does the Product Help the User?
What Possible Problems Might the User Encounter?
How Computer Literate Is the User?
How Educated Is the User?
Is English the User's Native Language?
Same Software, Different Users
The Home User
The Technical User
The Big-Spending User ... Er, the Task-Oriented User
Dancing Cheek-to-Cheek
When There's No Face-to-Face Contact
What If the User Is Highly Technical?
Gathering Information
Determining Content
Description-Based: What the Product Does
Task-Based: What the User Does
Gathering Information
Task-Based Documents
Description-Based Documents
Interviewing SMEs
Keeping Up
Patience and Persistence: Eyes on the Prize
Racing Toward the Finish
The First Draft
Jump Right In, the Water's Fine
In the Beginning: Creating a Document Outline
Outline Format
Shuffling the Virtual Index Cards
Drafting Your Draft
The Hipbone's Connected to the Leg Bone: Fleshing Out the Outline
How Fast Is "On Time"?
Battling Writer's Block
Everybody's an Editor
Getting Feedback
Confirming Information
Showing What's Still Needed
Choosing Reviewers
Preparing the Draft for Review
Include a Cover Sheet
Be Firm About Return Dates
Conducting the Review
The Tabletop Review
The Distributed Copies Review
The Electronic Review
Who's On First, What's On Second
Consolidating Reviewer Feedback
Resolving Conflicting Feedback
Once More, with Feeling
Front and Back Matter (They Sure Do!)
About Front Matter
Copyright Information
Table of Contents
Introduction
Typographical Conventions
About Back Matter
Appendixes
Glossaries
The Index
Indexing
Why an Index?
It Helps You Find Your Way
But Doesn't the Table of Contents Do That?
Why Everyone Hates Indexing
Another Document's Markers
What Makes a Good Index
Knowing What the User Wants
Descriptive Entries
No Dead Ends
Seeing Is Believing
Creating an Index
Manual vs. Computer Indexing
Some Rules for Indexing
Common Indexing Errors
Master Indexes
Making the Final Laps
Rewriting and Editing
How Much Is Enough?
Keep Things Moving
Editing Your Own Work
Editing Another Writer's Work
Proofreading
Making Proofreading Easier
Testing the Document
Document Testing on a (Time) Budget
A Testing Checklist
A Final Document Checklist
Freezing the Document
Collecting Post-Freeze Changes
Don't Thaw--Add On
Handing Off the Final Deliverables
The Deliverables
User Documentation: The User's Main Course
Standard User's Guides
"Getting Started" Guides
Tutorials
Quick Reference Cards
Introductions
Installation Manuals
Release Notes
Troubleshooting Manuals
The Heavyweights
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
Reference Guides
Specifications
System Administrator Guides
"Oh, and Could You Write This, Too...?"
Knowledge Is Power
"You Want It When?"
"You Can Have It Good, Fast, or Cheap: Pick Two"
What Do They Really Mean?
Battling the Inner Perfectionist
When Speed Is of the Essence
Working with Contractors
Planning an Entire Project
Considering the Medium
A Bit About Scheduling
Project Scope: How Wide Is Big? How High Is Up?
Calculating Time
Size, Scope, and Quality
Working Backward: Planning the Schedule
Style Guides: Not Just a Fashion Statement
What Is a Style Guide and What Does It Do?
Style and Speed
Guideline or Requirement?
Why Consistency Is Important
Follow the Bouncing Word
For Me to Know and You to Find Out
"Elegant Variation" Doesn't Improve Style
Classic Styles
Creating a Style Guide
The Mini Style Guide
Just Another Technical Document
How Do You Know Which Style Is "Right"?
Writing Clearly
Best Writing Practices
Respect the Reader
Active Voice: Don't Worry, Be Active
Commas: Dangerous Punctuation--The Serial Comma
Emphasis: We Really Mean It
Gender-Neutral Language: He Said, She Said
Humor: Funny Is as Funny Does
Imperatives: That's an Order
Negatives: Let's Be Positive, People
Paragraph Length: Six Is Enough
Parallel Structure: No Surprises
Present Tense: Be Here Now
Second Person: Yes, You
Should: Should You or Shouldn't You?
Kiss--Keep It Short and Simple
Call a Spade a Spade (Not a "Manually Operated Multipurpose Soil Manipulation Instrument")
Learning from Simplified English
Simple as 1, 2, 3: Writing Procedures
Divided by a Common Language: The International Audience
The Right Tool for the Job
The Tools
The Many Tasks of a Tech Writer
Tools, Wonderful Tools!
Your Computer Is Your Best Friend
The Value of Being Familiar with UNIX
... and Linux
Leave the Apples at Home
Writing Tools Must Fit Your Project
Desktop Publishing
Word Processing Programs
Choosing the Program That's Right for You
Graphics Tools Illustrate Your Points
Image Files
Screen Captures
Photo-Retouching Programs
Drawing Programs
Online Tools Launch You into Cyberspace
Creating PDFs
HTML Editors
Web Development
SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language)
XML (eXtensible Markup Language)
Help Tools Mean Really Ready Reference
Wrapping It Up
Document Design
Whose Job Is It, Anyway?
Get Help When You Can
Enhance Document Usability with Visual Elements
See How Others Have Done It
Page Setup
Page Size
Margins
Bindings
Page Layout and Design
Column Width
Color Me Interesting
Just My Type: Mastering Typography
Avoid Hyphenation
Type Talk
Cutting to the Chase
Headings
Body Text
Developing Your Layout
Tables and Figures
Use Meaningful Graphics
Online Design and Distribution
PDF Documents
WWW Files
WWWriting for the Web
Virtual Verbiage
Online Help
Web-Based Documentation
CD-ROM Documentation
Computer-Based Training
When Online Help Is No Help
What's Different About Reading Documentation Online?
What's Different About Writing Online Documentation?
Single-Sourcing
Getting to WWWork
Planning
Implementing
Verifying and Redoing
I Love My Job, I Love My Job, I Love My Job
Office Alternatives: Working Outside the Box
Consultant or Captive?
You Say Consultant, I Say Contractor
The Best of Both Worlds
Free Agents
The "Bottom Line" Is on a Tax Form
Can You Really Work Without Getting Out of Your Bathrobe?
Discipline? Me?
A Time to Rest and a Time to Work
That "Hermit" Feeling
When the Walls Start Closing In
All These Problems Have Solutions
There's Still No Place Like Home
About Telecommuting
How to Work Off-Site and Still Be a Team Member
You Didn't Think It Would Be Like This!
The "Dark" Side of Technical Writing
Choose Your Deadline: Aggressive or Insane?
Documentation Always Comes Last
When You've Got to Pull a Rabbit Out of a Hat
Changes, Changes, Changes
Take Control
"I Don't Get No Respect"
Working with Problem People
You're Doing All the Work While Someone Else Gets the Credit
Who Owns the Documentation?
How Proprietary Is Proprietary Information?
Getting Samples for Your Portfolio
The Light Side of Tech Writing
Managing Your Career
Where Do You Go from Here?
A Junior Technical Writer Job Description
A Technical Writer Job Description
A Senior Technical Writer Job Description
Documentation Manager
Moving Up
Moving Out
Moving Into Another Field
Keeping Your Knowledge Current
Networking Doesn't Stop Just Because You're Employed
Join Professional Organizations
Go to STC Meetings
Join the TECHWR-L Mailing List
Appendixes
Tech Talk--The Tech Writer's Glossary
For Your Bookshelf
Professional Organizations and Web Sites
Index

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