Classic: Building Bridges Between Marketing and Technical Publications Teams

One common myth in the corporate world is that technical publications and marketing departments are fundamentally at odds with each other. Some technical writers believe marketing publications are too adjective-laden and prone to hyperbole, while some marketing writers think technical publications are too dry and factual. Who’s right? It’s all a matter of perspective. Technical writers and marketing writers typically have different audiences and purposes for their publications. But once you get beyond the superficial differences, both writing groups have more in common than is immediately apparent. Continue reading ...

Technical Writing Humor: The Sidelines View of Telecommuting

I've done two stretches of full-time telecommuting--the first for about six months, and the second for about three months. My home office is impossibly glamorous. I have one of those executive oak desks from the 1950's with a little shelf thingy on the front to hold my trophies. I have a ceiling fixture I made out of chicken wire and plastic beads, a series of turn-of-the-century tobacco card pictures of boxers, and rotary dial telephones in a veritable rainbow of colors. I can burn incense and drink beer and wear glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts and listen to Guitarwolf without headphones if I feel like it. And yeah, sometimes I feel like it. Continue reading ...

Technical Writing Humor: The Unemployment Fairy and Karma

Okay, so remember that whole living on the edge thing I was talking about in my last column? Well, I'm going with that. I went and got laid off, thereby facilitating yet another full-blown midlife crisis. And the fates are with me on this one. See, as the signs of an impending layoff became increasingly difficult to ignore, I was in the middle of refinancing my house. So, clever hen that I am, I tacked a little extra money onto my loan for, oh, say, home improvement or something. You know, like, improving the house. Continue reading ...

Working with a Technical Editor

If you have never worked with an editor before, you may be wondering what to expect, and what the editor will expect from you. If you have worked with an editor before, you probably have some expectations about the relationship. Whether your past experiences were good or bad, you may be quite surprised to discover that the new editor's expectations are rather different from yours. This article looks at some aspects of the writer-editor relationship and what each of you can do to get the best results out of working together. Continue reading ...

What Strategies Can Technical Writers Use to Cope with Stress?

In Part One of this article, we defined stress as occurring when we perceive outside demands as being greater than our resources to cope. We noted that an informal poll conducted on the TECHWR-L site and ratings in the Jobs Rated Almanac indicated that technical writers in general experience a moderate to medium level of stress in their work environment. Part Two offers some practical suggestions for increasing your ability to cope with each of these categories of stressors. Continue reading ...

What Do Technical Writers Find Stressful?

Editor’s Note: The following piece by Warren Singer is part of our collection of “classics”–articles that stand the test of time no matter how many technologies come and go. We thought ten years would be a good mile marker to see if the things that stressed us in 2001 have changed. We invite you to have a read and then take part our "anniversary poll." Continue reading ...

The Functional Flowchart: A Tool for Understanding Client Needs, Plotting a Winning Strategy, and Developing a Proposal

Editor’s Note: The following piece, by the late, great Herman Holtz, was to appear as part of Herman’s “Hindsights & Insights” column.  It is part of our collection of “classics”–articles that stand the test of time no matter how many technologies come and go. Published with permission. It is easy to be misled by the […] Continue reading ...