Calling All Scottish Technical Writers

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(OK, mainly aiming at West of Scotland) Following a recent discussion about ISTC local area groups, a few of us based in the West of Scotland have decided to try to set up a local group. Our first meeting will be on Thursday 15th January 2009. If you work in the area (or further away), please come along to meet other writers and talk about technical writing. We’ll meet at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee provided. If you plan to come along, please email me so we can get a rough idea of how many writers might be attending: gordon [DOT] mclean AT gmail …

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Thanks for complaining

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Ever get the feeling that no-one reads your documentation? It’s a frequent issue amongst Technical Writers and the general stance reflects the approach many take to make sure that, when someone finally picks up the documentation, they can get to the information they need as quickly as possible. Given that, there is little worse than to have errors reported in your documentation. After all, if they’ve only just started using it to help them solve a problem and one of the first things they spot is an error then it’s understandable that confidence drops and that they are less likely to go to the documentation in the future. Of course we all do the very best job we can, yet …

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Jack of all trades Pt. 2

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My name is Gordon McLean, I am a Technical Communicator* and I am proud to be a jack of all trades. I recall once being asked to breakdown all the skills required to be a Technical Writer, and then to provide a list of daily work tasks. The list of skills was to be used as part of a skills/training matrix, and the work tasks were to be mapped to a timesheet system. At first I concentrated solely on the Technical Writers role, but even then you need to wear a number of hats; researcher, analyst, information architect, publisher, indexer, illustrator, proof-reader, editor… ohh and writer. All of those are unique job roles in some places yet, as a Technical …

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Do you RSS?

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Over the past year or so, as I’ve started to struggle to keep up-to-date with the multitude of websites that interest me, I’ve increasingly turned to RSS feeds to help me manage the load. With that in mind, I’ve been compiling a list of Technical Communications feeds that I find interesting. Some are by Technical Writers, some are not, but I generally skim through the new items daily and I’ve yet to have a day when I didn’t read or find something interesting and useful. If you have an RSS newsreader, then feel free to grab a copy of my subscriptions. If you right-click that link you should be able to download the file, and then just import it into …

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Evolution of language

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I’m a writer by trade (technical writer/author/communicator) and have spent long meetings discussing various style issues, how to handle bulleted lists (capitalise the first word of each bullet? end each bullet point with a comma, preface the list with a colon), the finer points of US versus UK spelling and grammar. Frequently I’d get frustrated, mainly because a lot of my co-workers (especially one at Dr.Solomons) were… well let’s just say a little anal, about the whole thing. So this article, by Jean Weber, Escape From the Grammar Trap was very refreshing, and it’s not just for Technical Writers, we can all benefit from this kind of general advice. (And yes I’ve calmed down a bit now)

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