Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is a Technical Writer?

In a previous post, I compared my writing with that of another blogger. I noted that the other person is a "superb prosaic writer" and I called myself a "mediocre technical writer".

I can practically hear many of you in the audience (or, is that, both of you in the audience) asking: what is a Technical Writer?

So, as another one of my public services I shall attempt to describe to the audience the essence of the Technical Writer -

How to tell if something was written by a Technical Writer:

  1. Open the document.
  2. Carefully scrutinize the text.
  3. If you are reading a numbered set of instructions, you are reading the work of a Technical Writer. If not, proceed to the section below entitled: Other signs of a Technical Writer.
  4. Close the document.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for all documents that you wish to check.

Note - Technical Writers are notorious for throwing in information in standalone paragraphs that are headed with the word Note. If the information is totally useless, it is usually headed Important Note.

Important Note- The above note only applies when the Technical Writers assume that your IQ is 115 or above. If they suspect your IQ is lower than 115, they head the note Warning.

Other signs of a Technical Writer:

  • Always uses bulleted lists
  • Heavy use of bold typeface words
  • Never ever uses the word Please
  • Likes to highlight text in 10% Grey
  • Loves the Chicago Manual of Style
  • Never set foot in Chicago
  • Does not end sentences with periods.

Warning - Never show this posting to a real Technical Writer

1 comment:

A Soldier's Mother said...

Hey, this is great, but you left out a few:
Technical writers love tables.
Technical writers love to use the word "enables" and "alternatively."
We also love to think that the world would be a much simpler place if only God had let us write the user manual.

great summaries (and look, I am not using a period here)

Paula