Many have been the writer who on a regular basis hears the following uncanny expression being repeated over and over: “Nobody reads the manual anyhow”.

In this article I will be bunking this fallacy. How? I’m a story-teller…

Yesterday, on my way to Yoga in the morning, I bumped into a fellow South African, Technical Writer from Audiocodes. He was specifically impressed by my ongoing concurrent projects specs and I told him I was on paid leave following the completion of a project.

Despite the fact that he hadn’t realized that it was possible to close a contract which includes paid holidays, I told him, I don’t work any other way.

A company who takes on any Technical Writer should know – whether you have a product or not, that book is going to get written, and will cost you 1/3 what a system engineer would charge per hour.

Both myself and my Technical Writer friend agreed, in cases where there isn’t a product, but the book gets written as the prototype of the product, updating the book after Beta testing is a MUST!

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  • Your manual will be perky if you can answer YES to the following:
    • Does the manual describe the procedures after the version update?
    • Do the procedures work?
    • Have the screen-captures been updated to show the current running version?
    • Have the screen-captures been updated to show available new options, pop-ups and floating windows?
    • In cases where windows can be accessed in one or more ways, are they fully described in the Getting Started, Quick-start or the Procedure itself?
    • Does every heading 1, 2, & 3 have a lead in sentence introducing the subject?
    • Do you have updated fields, styles or buttons which you need to carry over from other files to update the template?
    • Have you checked your Grammar & Spelling?
  • Also, Technical Manuals should be tested in the same way the product is tested:
    • Documentation bugs should be added into the QA bug report system under Docs.
    • The documentation and products teams should review the data, while the QA should test the data.

See information about how to make your manuals better:

The Technical Writer’s Checklist http://www.occc.edu/gholland/EP1/TWC.doc

Technical Writer’s Checklist http://hmc.tamu.edu/Files/070822TSC%20Writers%20CheckList%20A.pdf

Technical Writing Guidelines http://www.techprose.com/webforms/techwriting_guidelines.pdf

The steps you must take to become a great technical writer http://itrain.org/ttwc/

About Mor Getz:

Mor Getz has been a Technical and Marketing Writer for more than 10 years. She believes in synthesizing traditional and new media skills to generate creative signature copy for companies worldwide, assisting companies to establish their Social Media Presence. Counselor and Mentor of Women in Business via PROWomen Meet.  http://about.me/morgetz

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