Personas and the five W’s: Developing Content that Meets Reader Needs, Pt. 1

Part I: What’s a persona? Most documentation written by professional writers, whether printed or online, is well written and easy to navigate, but in my experience, an unfortunately high proportion omits important content or provides inadequate depth of content. Worse yet, the information may seem perfectly acceptable from a textbook perspective, yet fails to reflect […] Continue reading ...

Tech Writers, Grammar, and the Prescriptive Attitude

Most technical writers are confused about grammar. On any day on the TECHWR-L list, basic questions are asked: “Is ‘User’s Guide’ or ‘Users’ Guide’ correct? Maybe ‘Users Guide?’” “Should ‘web’ be capitalized when used to refer to the World Wide Web?” “Which is right: ‘A FAQ’ or ‘an FAQ?’” Many of these questions become the major thread on the list for a day or two, generating far more debate than they’re worth. The confusion isn’t so much about the grammatical points themselves. It’s about the nature of grammar in general. Apparently, many tech writers do not see grammar as a set of conventions to help them write clearly. Instead, to judge by the wording of the questions and responses, they see grammar as a set of unchanging rules that can provide definitive answers in every situation. Continue reading ...