Find Sporting Goods on eBay
Video and Audio], Broadcasting and podcasting Real Time Media On The Net

[description], Story, any other text you want to use.

Technical Writing for the Terrified

 by: Mike Kemp

Introduction

Sometimes it may be beyond a companies or individuals budget to hire a professional writer to address their technical documentation. Although in an ideal world all technical documentation should be produced by a highly trained expert, unfortunately we do not live in an ideal. In the same way that many people will attempt to repair their own home appliances, many people will attempt to write quality technical documents. Just as fiddling with a toaster can result in electrocution, attempting to write technical documents from scratch without prior advice will ultimately result in failure. As a rough rule of thumb you should always seek to employ a specialist, but if for whatever reason you can't and you are the poor unfortunate that has had documentation duties foisted on them, don't despair. This brief guide outlines some of the core skills you will need to bring to your writing, technical conventions to be aware of, software packages you can consider, and definite things to avoid. Hopefully even if you have never written a sentence in your life about anything vaguely technical you will have at the very least, a broader picture of what technical writing entails.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing unsurprisingly enough, refers to writing that is technical. Although this may seem like a fallacious definition, it's an important one to remember. Too many technical authors make the mistake of creating documentation that is either too technical, or too 'literary'. A good technical author should be able to adjust the balance between the two to suit the end user of the documentation. Technical writing is a lot like fresh air, pervasive and yet pretty much invisible. In the weird wired world in which we find ourselves, technical writing is everywhere. Software manuals, user guides for home appliances, instructional leaflets, emails, letters, reports, technical news reports, statistics and biographies on television sports shows all are examples of technical writing to which people are exposed to on a daily basis. If you have ever tried to program the time settings on a home video recorder and flung the manual across the room in disgust, you threw a piece of technical writing (although obviously not a very good one!). Too many times technical literature is produced by writers with not a large enough grasp of technology, or technologists that lack an ability to write. As a prospective technical author you must tread the very delicate line of being technically knowledgeable in your specialist field(s) as well as being a 'good' writer (as opposed to 'bad' writers who can usually be found mugging sweet old ladies or something). Technical documentation is usually produced for two distinct user groups, namely expert level users, and naive users. As a technical author one of your first tasks is to sort out what audience you are writing for, which brings me deftly to:

Know thy foe

As the old cliché goes, everyone's a critic. This is particularly true of most sane people's reaction when faced with technical writing. As was highlighted in the example of the video recorder above, technical writing can be impenetrable to the end user. If this is the case, it is because whoever wrote the documentation, didn't bother to identify their audience and write to their level. It seems an obvious point to make, but one that is often overlooked, that the user of the documents your are creating, may not actually be an expert. Obviously if you are creating a document on a particular specialist product for a particular advanced user group (a good example could be auditing software for computer system administrators) then you will need to compose this is an entirely different way than if you are creating for example, a technical manual for mass market computer software aimed at the inexperienced home user. One of the first tasks you must accomplish before you even put pen to paper, of finger to keyboard, is to identify who the user of your documents will be and construct documents aimed at that particular target group(s). If you get this stage correct, it should avoid your documents being thrown across rooms in annoyance!

Planning for perfection

Once you have identified the target market for the documents you will be creating, you will need to start to plan how the documents will be organised. This process is largely dependent on what documentation is being produced, but you can follow a few rough rules of thumb. Firstly, if the documents are to support a particularly detailed product (such as a computer application) get your grubby hands on it as quickly as you can. By examining the product in detail you can formulate a plan of attack and begin to compose an organisational structure. Whilst you are exploring the product in detail, take copious notes, as doing this during the initial exploratory stages can save you time which can be absolutely vital if you are working to deadline. Even at the planning stage you must ensure there is a consistency to layout, and organisational structure for the document. Select numbering conventions, paragraph styles, and generate rough ideas for layout purposes now, and save vital time later.

Let a Draft in

Before diving headfirst into creating the documentation, draft out each section first. This will allow to reorder if the documents being created do not have a logical 'flow' without seriously having impact on the project. Many technical documents (especially for more detailed products) are made up of numerous (and in some cases practically countless) iterations. This is because the product shifts and changes over time, and one of the principal duties of a technical author is to keep abreast of these changes, and to ensure that they are all well documented. Good technical authors will always push their documents through as many drafts as humanly possible, refining on each draft, until they reach a position whereby they (and their employer) is satisfied that the documentation is timely, accurate and a true reflection of the product or process it documents.

The devil is in the detail

As already identified, technical writing is called that because it is technical in nature. Part of being technical is to be precise, and part of precision is to be as detailed as humanly possible. Even if the documents you are creating are for an advanced and technologically sophisticated user group, your documentation must focus on the details of a process, or in using a product. This can be a difficult feat to accomplish, but not if you write to your audience. Never assume that the reader knows anything about the product or process be documented, but in the case of advanced / expert users at least have the common sense to recognise the fact that they probably do not need to be told how to use the equipment they operate on a daily basis. When describing how to carry out a particular activity or task, identify each stage involved (number them if this fits the conventions of the document type you are creating) and to ensure the accuracy of what you have written test it yourself, or even better, rope in a volunteer of the same skills level as the end user.

Choose the right tool for the job

Although it is possible to create technical documents using parchment and blood, it's not advisable. Many specialist software applications exist to help you create powerful documentation, and part of your duties as a technical author, include selecting the right tool for the job. Largely this depends on the nature of the documents being produced, and the nature of their eventual distribution. If the documents can be delivered using the Internet, this is certainly an avenue to consider. To that end make use of packages such as Flash MX and Dreamweaver to achieve this goal. For integrated online help, you may


business webcast

Real Time Media On The Net
This is one of the best resources for information on Real Time Media On The Net you can possibly find. Follow our links to find more information on Real Time Media On The Net. We hope that we have all of the Real Time Media On The Net details that you could need.
Real Time Media On The Net

Until recently, people used a technique called symmetric key cryptography to secure information being transmitted across public networks in order to make business webcast shopping more secure. This method involves encrypting and decrypting a business webcast message using the same key, which must be known to both parties in order to keep it private. The key is passed from one party to the other in a separate transmission, making it vulnerable to being stolen as it is passed along.

With public-key cryptography, separate keys are used to encrypt and decrypt a message, so that nothing but the encrypted message needs to be passed along. Each party in a business webcast transaction has a *key pair* which consists of two keys with a particular relationship that allows one to encrypt a message that the other can decrypt. One of these keys is made publicly available and the other is a private key. A business webcast order encrypted with a person's public key can't be decrypted with that same key, but can be decrypted with the private key that corresponds to it. If you sign a transaction with your bank using your private key, the bank can read it with your corresponding public key and know that only you could have sent it. This is the equivalent of a digital signature. While this takes the risk out of business webcast transactions if can be quite fiddly. Our recommended provider listed below makes it all much simpler.

Main Menu
Real Time Media On The Net
Site Map

Affiliate Ads, Links, news, etc.

News for 28-May-24

Source: BBC News - Home
Ken Matheson: Former British Cycling coach says 'culture of fear' exists

Source: BBC News - Home
How to stop social media videos autoplaying

Source: BBC News - Home
Steam baths and brandy

Source: BBC News - Home
Donald Trump gets 'very nice letter from Vladimir Putin'

Source: BBC News - Home
Africa's top shots: 16-22 December 2016

Source: BBC News - Home
Your pictures: Best of 2016

Source: BBC News - Home
Gorging on love

Source: BBC News - Home
Carrie Fisher: Star Wars actress suffers heart attack

Source: BBC News - Home
Man 'in love' drives through airport

Source: BBC News - Home
Bethlehem icons created by artists


Links
Links
Links
Google

Talk On The Net | MD News | Listen On The Net | MD Newscast
Copyright © 2005. Name of Site here. Last Updated: Tuesday, 28-May-2024 00:01:09 MDT.
Kids Meet   Medical Meetings   Internet Meetings