What Do You Need to Know?

A month or so ago, I posted the following on two technical writing groups on LinkedIn:


What Do You Need to Learn?

If you could improve your technical writing, what specifically would you need to learn? Do you have trouble starting your projects? Do you yearn for your layouts to be as professional as those you see elsewhere? Are you having trouble with proper English? Send me your specific problems.

My purpose was to start discussions, but it did not go very far. The few responses tended to come from experienced technical writers who wanted to learn about advanced tools, rather than new technical writers needing mentors. The learning needs were mostly in the programming realm (C++, JavaScript, HTML, XML, DITA, CSS). Someone even wanted to find out how to learn SAP, as there are jobs in California requesting that experience.


That really surprised me. Since when do technical writers need to know how to program? Is it a trend? What do you think?


Are there any new technical writers out there who would like someone to help them learn the ropes? Or does everyone entering the field “know it all?”

Published in: on February 17, 2009 at 3:30 PM  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I would really like to create training material layouts that really ‘pop’. I would like them to be effective, contain text and pictures and receive great feedback about their ease of use.

    I believe that I do create decent quality training material, but I find that I fall into the same layout each time I work with different companies. I have not seen any layouts that I really like.

    I would LOVE some guidance with training material layouts.

  2. I often felt the same way for the first few years. I just kept getting more and more books on technical writing, poured over the sections on page layout, and adapted suggestions to the needs of the company I worked for at the time.

    Over the years, I have found that my style is basically the same, but adapted for each client. Sometimes the module or section headings are different, or the way bullet lists are aligned, or whatever.

    The only time I can stray from the clean lines and clear progression is when I am given creative license. That has happened a couple of times where there was extreme importance put on holding the participants’ attention.

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