I was a computer book technical reviewer earlier in my career. It was a freelance gig, but I still consider the work one of the more formative chapters in my professional writing career even though it wasn’t writing work.
Computer book technical reviewers sometimes called technical editors are responsible for ensuring the technical accuracy of information technology book manuscripts. The work taught me to pay attention to technical details, which in turn went on to influence my work as a technical writer and freelance writer.
The lessons I learned include:
Continue reading Lessons learned from working as a computer book industry technical reviewer
Managing project documents can be an underappreciated art in some organizations. It’s an area where a technical writer should take charge. I’ve seen document control of all stripes throughout my career. Document control that works. Document control that didn’t work. Even document control that caused a near staff rebellion. I’ve even seen no formal document control practices.
While compliance programs like COSO and Sarbanes Oxley require document control over project documents, it also makes good business sense
Here are some tips for implementing document control within your project team or organization:
Continue reading The gentle art of project documentation control
I’ve long been a student of technical document reviews. So much so, I worked as a technical reviewer for some computer book publishers to learn more about this critical element of the technical communications. Back then I thought I could do a better job than the reviewers where I was working at the time). Editorial and technical reviews are integral parts of the technical publications process. Unfortunately, so many organizations fumble through the review cycle.
Continue reading 4 reasons why your document reviews aren’t working
It’s never fun watching a technical documentation, training development, or other writing projects get off to a false start or just downright fail. It can be a real morale blow and expose the writer(s) and their team to criticism from stakeholders. However, failures do happen, and it is best to do what you can to recover from quickly.
Writing projects can fail or stall for a myriad of reasons including poor planning, course changes in the project plan, and other risks that may or not be accounted for in the overall project plan.
Here are five ways to get past a failed or stalled writing project:
Continue reading 5 ways teams can recover from a failed or stalled writing project
Every job hunt and even unsolicited discussions with recruiters during the past few years brought me more tales of organizations continuing to have issues producing and maintaining technical documentation. It is not isolated in one sector, and I keep hearing the same problems repeatedly. This has been a real disappointment for me over the years I was a contract technical writer and now that I have a staff technical writer job.
Developing technical documentation isn’t fun. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be such an afterthought. Things aren’t made any easier with a technical writing profession that is fragmented on the actual role of the technical writer.
Here are some ways organizations sabotage their technical documentation:
Continue reading 6 ways to sabotage your technical documentation
One of the most useful – yet potentially embarrassing – features of Microsoft Word is Track Changes. Using the Track Changes feature lets you electronically markup your Word documents with edits, additions, and revisions. Think of it as an electronic red pen so to speak.
The potential embarrassment of the feature comes in when you don’t accept the Track Changes. Comments, edits, and revisions not fit for public consumption can leak out. Even if none of the comments are critical, it is just plain sloppy to have a recipient open up a document that still contains markups.
Continue reading A few words about Microsoft Word and Track Changes
So much is written about the part-time writer or freelancer being the one who complicates part-time working arrangements – they do this, they do that, part-time freelancing during your off hours is going to melt your brain and turn you into a hermit and so forth. These articles only tell half the story and actually do a disservice to writers and potential clients.
Continue reading Part-time freelancing: An alternative perspective