Clear and to the Point

2 January, 2015

Job qualifications I hate to see

Filed under: technical communication — monado @ 13:00
Tags:

There’s something a little depressing and a little frustrating in to of the items I see listed under Qualifications for many technical writing jobs. I’m sure you know them:

  • Ability to work simultaneously on different documentation modules and products in a fast paced development environment with minimum supervision
  • Ability to work in a deadline driven environment with strong emphasis on consistency, usability, and quality

Sometimes they are combined:

  • Able to work in a very fast paced environment and handle multiple projects at the same time.

The first one says, “We won’t protect you from competing priorities” or, in short, “Your manager won’t manage.”

The ability to manage all projects on all products in a fast-paced environment and produce high-quality, accurate, consistent, and readable documentation is often combined with an experience level of no more than five years. In other words, the employer is not about to pay for a senior writer. So the second one says,”We expect the impossible.” It’s a basic rule of project management: You can have it Good. You can have it Fast. You can have it Cheap. Pick Two.

Experience aside, if you are flipping from product to product, it’s difficult to get a coherent body of knowledge in your head assembled and then re-packaged. This multiplies the chance of a mistake: of missing something, of inconsistency, of applying a detail from one product to a description of another product. You need a manager who will deflect or delay some work requests.

2 October, 2014

Think before you write

Filed under: accuracy,writing — monado @ 12:20
Tags: ,

Or at least review.

A magazine cover promises "Five Kitchen Cures for Glowing Skin".

A cure for glowing skin

If you have glowing skin, this magazine has a cure for it.

27 August, 2013

How much detail can you add?

Filed under: communication,safety — monado @ 13:21
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This is an example of parking signs that have reached, or perhaps passed, their level of understandable complexity. What do you think? Is this suitable for the general public?

A complex farrago of no parking rules

Parking signs

29 July, 2013

Coffee sign

Filed under: communication,ingenuity — monado @ 13:31
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Here’s a neat little gadget made from two Styrofoam coffee cups. To show when coffee was last made, simply turn one cup inside the other until the arrow shows the time. This was spotted in West Hartford, Connecticut.

A device made from two coffee cups, one with times on its rim held by another with an arrow pointing at the times

“Coffee made at…”

13 October, 2012

International Plain Language Day

Filed under: communication,education,language,people — monado @ 13:49
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Toronto communicators celebrated International Plain Language Day with a conference and public open house. Here are a few of the participants.

A group of white collar workers sits in a lounge

International Plain Language Day

 

6 September, 2011

Consistency is key

Filed under: accuracy,editing — monado @ 12:50
Tags: , ,

As an editor, you don’t always need to be an expert to know that something is wrong.

The owl family

If a piece contains internal contradictions, query it.

Strigi- or Stringi- ?

Often you can just check public references to find the correct form.

The "Strigis" have it

“”Strix” was the Latin word for owl. Ironically, it comes from the Greek word “strinx,” or screecher.

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