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Technical Writing Feedback

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 105 comments and questions on Technical Writing issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.



List of next 15 letters

Title

Topic

Country

Wants to be a technical writer General India
 
Looking for writers in India Resources India
 
What is an initial requirement specification Managing Projects Pakistan
 
What is the rate for one page? Salaries Israel
 
What is the end product of technical writing? General Philippines
 
Starting tech writing class General Philippines
 
What work is to be done by a technical writer? Knowledge India
 
Wants to be a technical writer General Papua New Guinea
 
Starting as technical writer Conciseness India
 
No PDF color using Win 2000 Indexing in FrameMaker India
 
Problem with indexing Indexing in FrameMaker India
 
How important is FrameMaker? Managing Projects UAE
 
Lost most basic writing skills General USA
 
How does the new RoboHelp work? FM to RoboHelp India
 
Seeking Tech Writing career General RSA
 

Next 15 letters

 




First 15 letters


General

Wants to be a technical writer

August 26, 2004

Question

I am a post graduate in Science. I have above average English skills. I am interested in pursuing a career in tech writing. Problem is I am not all that a creative person. So if somebody hands me a subject and some basic information, I can do all the research and put it all in an orderly and readable format. Is this enough? Or Should I have some specific skills. I am interested in taking up your online course.

Pls give me some clear answers regarding the above.

Regards
Gayathri

Gayathri - India (4102)

Answer

Technical Writing is not necessarily creative. Research is more important. See out section at:
http://www.school-for-champions.com/techwriting.htm

Also check http://www.stc-india.org for contacts in India.

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Resources

Looking for writers in India

August 25, 2004

Question

I've been trying to hire a couple fresher technical writers in the Anand/Baroda area of Gujarat. Where should I look for canididates?

Paresh - India (4089)

Answer

You could check the colleges in that area. Also see http://www.stc-india.org/ and contact them for information on available writers.

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Managing Projects

What is an initial requirement specification

July 23, 2004

Question

Good morning,
I want to know what is initial requirement specification (IRS)and standers for writing an IRS document for a project.
Thank you.

munem - Pakistan (3829)

Answer

An Initial Requirement Specification outlines the requirements for a given product. The actual specification will go in great detail of exactly what is wanted.

The standards vary, depending on the industry. Often they have their own standards.

An example of an IRS can be seen at:
http://alto.aber.ac.uk/pastprojects/evaluation/reqspecintro.asp.
Examine it and its links.

Best wishes in your project.

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Salaries

What is the rate for one page?

July 5, 2004

Question

I would like to know what is the rate for one page that a technical writer can charge you did not write it on your site

thanks

ofeer - Israel (3691)

Answer

That depends on the complexity of the page. A good rule of thumb is that a page will take 1 hour to write, including research and editing. If you are working as an independent writer--that is, not for a company but in business for yourself--then you would charge twice your hourly rate. But of course, you must be flexible, since it is often more important to get a job than to lose one over a rate too high.

You really must time yourself to see how long it takes to write a page of the type and subject matter required. Then you can go from there.

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General

What is the end product of technical writing?

June 27, 2004

Question

what are the end products of technical writing??

rainier - Philippines (3640)

Answer

The technical document or user manual is the end product.

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General

Starting tech writing class

June 17, 2004

Question


Hi! I'm Theresa and to teach technical writing this school opening, kindly help me have the best module ever so that my second year students will surely enjoy this subject with me.

I'm afraid they'll be expecting much from me since I became their english mentor in the preceding year, but English subject is far different from technical writing, this is my first year of handling this subject that's why I feel so alien about it, nevertheless I am willing to learn and impart to them everything I would gain from my researches.

Thank you and your great help will certainly be appreciated.

Ma. Theresa - Philippines (3575)

Answer

Unfortunately, we only provide the basics on the subject. The important parts of technical writing are good grammar and concise writing. You can use actual technical writing samples to show how technical writing is presented and structured. Software user manuals are very good examples of technical writing. In fact, they make up a major part of the writing.

Another set of examples include online help for the varaious software applications. You can study how online help differs from the user manual.

A final area consists of hardware procedures and manuals. You might check with a local industry to see if they have any documentation you can use as an example.

I hope this helps. Best wishes in your class.

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Knowledge

What work is to be done by a technical writer?

June 14, 2004

Question

What work is to be done by a technical writer? Does it relate to any programming language?

Anuj - India (3548)

Answer

The technical writer provides descriptions and procedures, usually to be read by the user of some equipment or software. A user manual is an example of technical writing.

If the manual is explaining programming, the writer shuld know the language.

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General

Wants to be a technical writer

June 11, 2004

Question

I would very much persue a career in technical writing. I am currently doing some documentation for the company I am attached with for work experience. I find it iteresting and challenging at the same time. However, I'd like to be recognised as technical writer with all the skills and quality that come with being a technical writer in any organisation I will be employed in the future.

The institutions in my country do not offer a Technical Writer's course. Therefore, I'd appreciate if you could advice if you can help me to acheive that goal.

Thank you

Sophia-Joy - Papua New Guinea (3535)

Answer

More technical writers gain their skill through on-the-job-experience than in taking special courses. Knowing the products of a company and having skills in writing clearly are important.

See our section on Technical Writing at: http://www.school-for-champions.com/techwriting.htm.

Also check the Society for Technical Communication at www.stc.org for good information.

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Conciseness

Starting as technical writer

June 1, 2004

Question

i am technical writer. please can you give me a suggestion or some sample document of technical writing. i am new in this field and i would like to read a few documents to start up wit my job. we are doing the project in VB 6. its regarding school. so please do kindly help me out. i strongly believe that i can be helped. Also i would like to get some site address for good technical and professional terms.
thank you sir

Susan - India (3435)

Answer

Looking at software user manuals is a good place to examine technical writing for something like VB 6. Also, Microsoft Press has a very good book on Writing Style Guide.

See www.stc.org for good information on the technical writing profession. Note that there are several STC chapters in India. One may be near you.

Also note that if you are to be a writer, you should NEVER, EVER send anything out with no capital letters and incorrect punctuation. A writer must always present the best to the public.

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Indexing in FrameMaker

No PDF color using Win 2000

May 28, 2004

Question

Hi,

I am using FM 6 for my technical documentation. A few days, i was working on Windows 98. When i converted the FM files into PDF, the output came out fine in colors. But now i am workin on Win 2000 and i am not getting colors when i convert the files to PDF. What decides the color PDF format? The printer settings are all the same. Nothing has been changed and i am using Adobe Reader 6. Can you please let me know?

Thanks and Regards

Deepika - India (3416)

Answer

I am wondering if FM 6 is completely compatible with Win 2000. I would think so, but stranger things have happened. I do not see any reason that the color would not work under Win 2000. Sorry that I can't help you.

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Indexing in FrameMaker

Problem with indexing

May 28, 2004

Question

Hi,
I am using FM 6 for my documentation. I have created two paragraph tags - numbered and numbered1. Now, i am also having a number of figures in my document. I would like to label the figures as Fig 1, Fig 2 and so on; But, the numberd tags are clashing with the figure tags. That is, if there are any steps between two figures, then figure tags takes the last number found in the 'numbered' paragraph tag into consideration. I donot want to label the figures as 1.1, 1.2 and so on since there are no chapter numbers. Is there any way to label the figures as Fig 1, Fig 2 and so on, without them clashing with the numbered format. Kindly let me know, if there are any.

Thanks and Regards

Deepika - India (3418)

Answer

I'm sorry, but we don't have the answer for that. Perhaps you can check with Adobe FrameMaker User Forums for assistance at http://www.adobe.com/support/forums/main.html.

Best wishes in finding a solution.

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Managing Projects

How important is FrameMaker?

April 20, 2004

Question

Dear Ron,

I really enjoyed reading your articles on Tech Writing subject, and the valuable links you provided throughout the artciles.

I am almost new to Tech Writing job and would like to know from you if I still need to learn Adobe FrameMaker software, while I am an expert in InDesign software and use it along with MS Word 2003?

What's really the real advantages to learning FrameMaker over InDesign for moderated writing/documentation projects?

Your advise is very important to me, and thank you in advance.

Mike - UAE (3067)

Answer

It depends on what the company doing the hiring uses. FrameMaker is a standard for making large manuals, but not all companies use it. Look at local want ads to see typical software requirements.

Unless you truly see a need for learning FrameMaker, you can get by without it. But still, it is not a bad idea to get an idea of what features it has. At least you can say you are familiar with the program. It is not that difficult to learn.

Best wishes in your technical writing career.

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General

Lost most basic writing skills

April 19, 2004

Question

I'm 34 years old and have lost most basic writing skills.
Should I take refresher courses before branching out to take a technical writing course?
I'm very interested in Technical Writing.

Thank You

Rhonda - USA (3059)

Answer

A technical writing course will give you plenty of practice. In the meanwhile, start writing a personal journal to get into the swing of writing every day.

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FM to RoboHelp

How does the new RoboHelp work?

April 13, 2004

Question

Hi,

My name is Deepika. I am technical writer located in India. I have taken up this profession very recently. I went through this article. It has helped quite a lot. Thank you very much for posting this article. There are some questions that i wanted to ask you.
1. What is the best way to convert the FM file to MS Word?
2. After creating a robohelp file, do we integrate it in the respective software? or does the company developers do it? In other words, do you have any idea of integrating the robohelp file into the software for which we designed it?
3. There is a new s/w called robohelp for framemaker? Do you think i have to use that s/w to convert fm files to robohelp?

I would be very grateful if you could find some time to answer my queries.

Thanks and Regards

Deepika - India (2991)

Answer

RoboHelp uses Word files, so the process is the same. Note that the latest version of FrameMaker will convert an FM file to Word much easier. The main problem in previous versions was when there where images in the file.

In order to integrate online help with a software application, such that it would be context sensitve, you need cooperation of the s/w programmers.

The new version of RoboHelp allows your to easily import FM files. See:
http://www.macromedia.com/software/robohelp/ for information on the new version.

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General

Seeking Tech Writing career

April 7, 2004

Question

I am browsing the net to try and find as much information on Technical writting as possible. I do not have a Technical Writer's Qualification, but a teachers degree.

I am not able to teach any more due to vocal cord problems. Technical writting is a wonderful substitute for teaching an as such I am enjoying it very much.

Your lectures realy help me in getting a better insight.

Gerrit - RSA (2949)

Answer

Best wishes in your new career.

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