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Feedback Q&A on Technical Writing

by Ron Kurtus

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

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



List of next 10 letters

Topic

Title

Country

General Starting tech writing class Philippines
 
Knowledge What work is to be done by a technical writer? India
 
General Wants to be a technical writer Papua New Guinea
 
Conciseness Starting as technical writer India
 
Indexing in FrameMaker No PDF color using Win 2000 India
 
Indexing in FrameMaker Problem with indexing India
 
Managing Projects How important is FrameMaker? UAE
 
General Lost most basic writing skills USA
 
FM to RoboHelp How does the new RoboHelp work? India
 
General Seeking Tech Writing career RSA
 

Next 10

 




First 10 letters


Starting tech writing class

Topic: General

Question

June 17, 2004


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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What work is to be done by a technical writer?

Topic: Knowledge

Question

June 14, 2004

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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Wants to be a technical writer

Topic: General

Question

June 11, 2004

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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Starting as technical writer

Topic: Conciseness

Question

June 1, 2004

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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No PDF color using Win 2000

Topic: Indexing in FrameMaker

Question

May 28, 2004

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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Problem with indexing

Topic: Indexing in FrameMaker

Question

May 28, 2004

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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How important is FrameMaker?

Topic: Managing Projects

Question

April 20, 2004

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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Lost most basic writing skills

Topic: General

Question

April 19, 2004

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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How does the new RoboHelp work?

Topic: FM to RoboHelp

Question

April 13, 2004

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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Seeking Tech Writing career

Topic: General

Question

April 7, 2004

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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