Working with a Technical Editor: Got My Edits Back. Now What?

Technical writers often cringe when they get edited content back from the editor, but it doesn’t have to be that bad. Vacation, procrastination, and taking it easy really can help. Here are the steps (yes, take them in order), to follow when receiving edits and revising content from your technical editor or your SME Continue reading ...

Peer Review Strategies for Technical Writers

Writers’ groups have existed for as long as there have been writers. Their goal, other than providing an excuse to gather with kindred spirits over coffee or beer, is to obtain expert critiques of your writing. By understanding the comments and learning to distinguish between valid and invalid criticisms, you learn to write better stories. I’ve participated in such groups, and members have ranged from supporters who actually cared about my aspirations as a writer to ruthless egotists who mostly wanted to prove how much better they were than me. Most technical writers have encountered this approach in the form of peer review, but peer review most often has a different focus: to replace a full-time editor rather than to teach writers to write better. Continue reading ...

Why You Should Have Attended User Assistance 101 at WritersUA

WritersUA 2012 started with the basics in the pre-conference sessions on Sunday. Even with 17 years of experience in technical communications, I found the four content strategy sessions to be very valuable and informative, as a refresher on the basics of any technical communications project, and as applied to user assistance (UA). The Content Strategy track of UA101 included Writing Procedures by Leah Guren, Editing by Rhonda Bracey, Task Analysis by Leah Guren and SME Interviewing by Nicky Bleiel. Continue reading ...

Technical Writer Poll: Quality Control on Technical Communications Content

Most of the technical writers and technical communicators we know take pride in their work, and want quality to be a basic work ethic. But most of these same technical writers have significant pressure just to get the stuff out the door by set, too-short deadlines. So that begs the question, and thus this poll, about the kinds of quality control performed on technical communications content. 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 ...

Business and Technical Communication News by TechWhirl

Tech Writer This Week: January 5, 2012

Every week, TechWhirl reviews and collects eye-catching posts, industry news and anything that we like from technical communications (and beyond). The first week of 2012 features multiple items on social media and tech comm, content curation, writing and editing tips, gadgets, and resolutions for the new year. Continue reading ...

Technical Writing on a Shoestring: Open Source Tools That Can Save Your Technical Writing Department Money

The current economic decline has decimated many technical writing department budgets. But, the demand for quality documentation and training material has not abated. As more companies compete for a smaller customer base, the ability to create software that is easy to use and that also provides the customer with a wide variety of options for help is critical. How can you, as a technical writer offer top-notch documentation and help materials on a tight budget? While there are several facets to this question, selection of tools is paramount. One of the most obvious ways to save money is to use open source, low cost, or free software. Continue reading ...

The Foundation of Successful Collaboration

Collaboration is a term that might cause panic in the lives of people who are used to working alone. These days, projects come in all sizes, and collaboration during a project is a critical discipline and skill. Perhaps you’ve never had the opportunity to collaborate or it’s been a long time since you last collaborated with someone on a project. Or, maybe you’ve had a bad experience with collaboration and you’ve just been asked to collaborate again. Regardless of your reason, you can benefit from some general guidelines that can help make your next collaboration experience a success. Continue reading ...

Book Review: Effective On Screen Editing: New Tools for an Old Profession

One of the things that helped me make the transition from paper-based to (mostly) on-screen editing was reading Geoff Hart’s Intercom columns on electronic editing. They were full of tips on how to make the best use of Word’s built in features and tips on streamlining my work flow. These columns, revised and updated, form the core of Geoff’s book, Effective onscreen editing: New tools for an old profession. Continue reading ...