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Tutorials and training for technical writers.

top 12 technical communication articles 5

The Storyboard: An Outline for Visual Technical Communications

As technical communicators, we’re often assigned to projects that appeal to more than one sense—words, visuals and sounds—to convey a message. A multi-media technical communications project requires not only creative skills, but organizational skills as well. We can settle on a concept, a delivery method, and come up with ideas for visuals and copy points. But, we need feedback before we invest the time producing our project, or we may find we’ve gone down the proverbial rabbit hole and missed the intended goal of the project. The storyboard provides organization and makes it easy to get feedback before production begins. Continue reading ...

Create Technical Writing Consistency While You Write—Or Add it Later

One of the primary tasks any writer or editor must perform is to impose consistency on a manuscript. Consistency is particularly important for technical writers, because it makes the task of writing easier: if you don’t have to develop a new solution each time you face the same problem, you can simply find a solution that works for all occurrences of that problem and use it thereafter. From the technical writer’s perspective, it’s best if you try to build in that consistency right from the start, because it can save you a lot of time both in your initial draft and in your subsequent revisions. 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 ...

Getting Started on Managing (and Measuring) Interdepartmental Technical Communication Requests

If you’ve been a technical writer for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered somebody from another team or department who wants some help “writing this up.” It’s hard—sometimes not even permissible—to say no to those requests. In fact some technical communication teams support a whole range of internal and external communications activities that go beyond the traditional manuals, design docs or online help. In today’s ROI world everything is measured, so it’s more important than ever to establish a formal system for managing communications requests and tasks. Continue reading ...

What to Consider When Building Help for Mobile Devices for Field Workers

There’s no denying that smart devices are taking over. Everywhere we turn, people are talking about the newest app they’ve downloaded (Angry Birds anyone?). But aside from avian masochism and borderline obsessive updates on Facebook, smart phones and other mobile devices (tablets, PDAs, etc.) have proven their usefulness in the professional world, and in particular, for workers in the field. But what does the age of mobility mean for technical communications professionals focused on user assistance? How do you plan and implement help on smart devices that field personnel can and will use? 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 ...

Presenting Your Professional Portfolio in the Digital Age

Writers, designers, artists and photographers face the constant dilemma of showing potential employers or clients exactly what kind of genius they’re capable of. The portfolio is an integral part of your effort to market yourself to those who can benefit from your services. Over the years, my portfolio has morphed as often as my job titles, and I clearly recall the angst of having to show what I could do despite having practically no working experience. Continue reading ...

Conducting Effective Team Technical Reviews

Editor’s Note: The following piece, by M. Katherine Brown, is part of our collection of “classics”–articles that stand the test of time no matter how many technologies come and go. Mention team technical reviews to a group of tech writers and chances are good that you will either get a loud, collective groan, or the […] Continue reading ...