Technical/Marketing Writing

Debunking the Fallacy that User Manuals Cannot be Good

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

Employment, Technical/Marketing Writing

Aspects of Technical Writing that nobody knows or cares about

Most people I tell I’m a Technical Writer think it’s interesting, funny or weird.

I don’t really fit the profile – I’m a young, savvy, experienced professional & I’ve been in the field for +10 years.

When I tell them what I do for a living, most people think I’m a translator. They can’t really get the bigger picture of what Technical Writing entails.

  • Did you know?

Most Technical Writers not only write manuals, but write manuals while concurrently updating departments about what other departments are doing and help to keep a good BALANCE OF INFORMATION supply within a company.

  • Did you know?

Technical Writing duties often range from the merely banal, to CRM, data retention and training services while on-going work is taking place – as AN ADDED BENEFIT.

  • Did you know?

There are lots of fallacies about what Technical Writers do. Most people don’t know what challenges Technical Writing involves so they assume that the only task is at the computer, whereas most of the work is done while CROSS-REFERENCING BETWEEN MIGRATING VERSIONS, PEOPLE AND PRODUCTS.

  • Did you know?

As a rule, most Technical Writers know an average of over 50 software solutions and can implement them for your documentation?

  • Did you know?

When a Technical Writer says he’s working from home he’s probably producing more than if he was working in the office; He’ll probably finish the document sooner at home, but odds are against him if he’s running around from department to department.

  • Did you know?

Technical Writing as well as Social Media DO play a part in StartUp strategy and money raising efforts in the same way; both challenge the user to see what is really happening while covering up all the buggy stuff nobody wants to relate to (Huh? Yes I’m not joking).

  • Did you know?

The average Technical Writer has a considerably higher than average IQ in relation to the general population.

  • Did you know?

Most Technical documentation is written from the middle towards the introduction and the end (outwards)?

  • Did you know?

Not everyone can be a Technical Writer.

  • Did you know?

The average manual can take from a few days to a few months to write.

Questions & Input are Welcome!