Clear and to the Point

13 October, 2012

International Plain Language Day

Filed under: communication,education,language,people — monado @ 13:49
Tags: , ,

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


29 April, 2010

Project cycles

I’ve recently discovered that graduate students typically a crisis when writing their thesis, when they despair of ever finishing their degree. At the time it seems like the collapse of their hopes for a career. It might be easier to handle as a stage in the normal writing-project cycle.

I’ve been writing technical materials for years, mostly in project three to eight months long, and still suffer from the emotional ups and downs of writing. Every project has similar emotional phases: excitement at starting out, wonder of discovery at learning the material, puzzlement or even bewilderment about how to organize the information, feeling productive at putting it together, and then doubt that it will ever be finished. The last stage is surprise and pleasure as it all comes together and doesn’t look so bad after all. The crisis might be less severe if thesis advisers would only tell their candidates to expect those phases and keep slogging, get a good night’s sleep or go for a walk and then come back to do a short manageable task.

It’s very daunting to start writing without a clear plan and just hoping to have everything down by the last page. It’s like setting off one day to walk across the continent. To help keep it manageable, I suggest outlining the topics and sub-topics of the thesis and then roughing out each one with a few sentences & a note of any illustrations or references. You can run such a plan past your adviser to make sure you’re on the right track. Then, with the logical structure in place, it’s easier to fill in the details. It’s more like riding to the next town, checking your itinerary, and buying a ticket to the next town—except that you don’t have to do the sections in order. Fill them in when you have the information or the inspiration. This is called top-down design and it’s one way to cut a project down to size.

I hope that helps (similes and all)!

3 June, 2009

Indexing Society of Canada’s 2009 conference

Filed under: education — monado @ 17:57

The Indexing Society of Canada/ Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC / SCI) are holding their national conference today and tomorrow in Toronto at the University of Toronto.

You can find the programme here.

21 April, 2009

Toronto technical writers offer management seminars

Filed under: education — monado @ 19:39


The Toronto Society for Technical Communication is offering a day of seminars on Wednesday, April 22nd, for those who manage technical communication issues.

As writers and managers, we often hear what should be done, but how to do it and do it correctly, can be tough. This one–day workshop has four excellent topics teaching you how to improve your team, how to identify the right translation vendor to work with, how to promote yourself and your team internally, and how to manage during transitions of key staff. Leave with clear action items to get results from your team, and get work done on time and within budget.

The day includes a hot, catered lunch, morning and afternoon snacks, and speaker handouts
With the tough economic times we are facing it is more important than ever to ensure you have the right team, the right partners, the right image, and the right management.seneca-college-allstate-parkway

LOCATION: Seneca College, Markham Campus, 10 Allstate Parkway near Highways 404 and 7 (Google Map)

SCHEDULE: 08:00 –16:15 plus as long as people want to ask questions.

8:00 Breakfast, networking, & check in (please arrive by 8:30 a.m.)


Promotion from Within: During tough times it can be difficult to find the resources to hire new members for your team. One solution is to promote from within. However, finding the right team members, and identifying the key habits that make a technical communicator great, can make all the difference in team building. Visnja discusses these traits and teaches you how to identify them and promote the right people from within your current ranks.

Visnja Beg is the Project Manager overseeing all deliverables for the IBM Rational Software family of User Assistance products. She has worked in technical communications for 20 years and is a past president of STC Ottawa and has presented at several STC conferences.

10:15 Coffee, tea, snacks, & social networking


Choosing the Right Translation Vendor: When content must be translated, it is crucial to choose the right vendor. To find the right vendor, you need to ask the right questions. You also need to evaluate bids beyond the cost per word. What are best practices for making this important decision? Learn how to select a vendor based on lessons learned by those who have gone through the process. Save yourself both money and time.

Vivian Aschwanden has over 11 years of experience in information development in both writing and leadership roles. She has been a lone writer for a startup, led a doc team in a broadcast engineering firm, and now fills a part-time project management role at Platform Computing in conjunction with her full-time writing.

12:00 Networking lunch


Internal Consulting: Selling Tech Comm Inside Your Organization: Learn how to expand your network inside your organization, increase the services you offer, and boost the value of you and your team in the eyes of your employer. Told as a true story about the growth of a tech writing team, this session teaches techniques and tools for developing relationships in your company and turning those relationships into lines of business.

Mark Pepper is a communicator with 14 years of experience. He has been the lead technical writing consultant at Deloitte & Touche, an elearning writer and project manager, worked in journalism, business analysis, and at the help desk. He presently runs his own company, Crimson Sage Softworks Inc.

14:30 Coffee, tea, snacks, & social networking


Managing Management Change: how do you manage the abrupt departure of management? Learn how an interim manager steered a department through change and brought in a new ID manager (promoted from within the team) with minimal damage to productivity or morale. Effective change management strategies eased the transition. Learn key things you need to do to ensure change “sticks”, and strategies to help a team grow through the change.

Jim Smith is Manager of Information Development and User Experience at Platform Computing. Jim has been an information developer for over 20 years, including 7 years at IBM’s Toronto Lab. He has enjoyed 10 years at Platform, where he now manages a dynamic team of information developers and usability experts.

16:15 Wrap-up & Questions for the panel


REGISTER: Email or phone 416-460-5845.

We must receive your payment to confirm your registration. If you cancel, you must let us know 5 business days before the event. However, you can send someone else at any time.

See you there!

12 March, 2009

Seneca College Tech Comm

Just discovered via FaceBook: The Seneca College Technical Communication program has a blog, maintained by Beth Agnew.


Mission:   To provide a real world, relevant, hands-on education in technical communication.

Overview:  Seneca’s Technical Communication Program has been producing capable technical writing graduates for 10 years now.

Seneca College is Canada´s largest college with more than 100,000 full and part-time students on campuses across the Greater Toronto Area. Seneca provides internationally and nationally recognized career education and training key to graduate success. Every Seneca diploma, certificate and degree program is developed to a high academic standard, in consultation with industry, integrated with information technology, combined with technical and transferable skills, and reinforced by opportunities for ongoing education and re-training.

9 February, 2009

Learning to use Acrobat

Filed under: education,online resources,Web — monado @ 00:50

I quite enjoyed the two days of courses last week put on by Front Runner Training. I was pleasantly surprised by how much information the instructor, Bruce McVicar, managed to convey. As a bonus for taking both courses, I received a copy of a quick start guide to Acrobat 8.

Acrobat Essentials I

This 1-day course teaches participants how to create and enhance PDF documents such as bookmarked pages, searches, annotations, document settings and page control. Participants will also learn how to create PDF documents from other programs such as Microsoft Word and apply security and authenticate PDFs.

Acrobat Essentials II

This 1-day course teaches participants how to create enhanced PDF documents with security using Acrobat Professional. Digital IDs, OCR conversion of scanned documents, Using Bates numbering, creating batch processes and using editing and redaction tools will be covered. Participants will also learn how to create Indexes for faster searching across multiple PDF files. Acrobat Distiller assists users in the creation of PDFs and application of security and other settings. PDF forms will be learned with examination of different types of user entry fields and methods of capturing information returned by others.

I also located a users’ resources on the Acrobat Web site. If you go to this link, you can find lots of help, including some online documentation:

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