For Success, You Have to Support Your New Writer
You have just assigned a non-writer to write a User Document (manual, instruction sheet, set up guide, etc.). To ensure success, you have to support your new writer.
This support includes:
- An editor, hired early in the project, to assist your new writer
- Style guide, a book that provides accepted wording used in your industry
- Clout, to get the writer access to the information that he/she needs
- Training, to enable them to create a great User Document
- Resources, especially time
What's this great User Document stuff?
One part of our mission statement (aaargh!) is that we want to improve the state of User Documentation. That mission is reflected in the philosophy of the Course and expressed in these articles on Great Technical Writing. The Course guides your new writer to produce a User Document that will make your User comfortable and effective with your product. That's a great User Document, and it's beneficial to everyone.
Our Course provides the training that your new writer needs to succeed in this project. (It also discusses the other support and how to get it.) The Course is NOT one where the student goes away to learn something, and then returns to try to apply the information.
Our Course guides your new writer in the task of creating a great User Document from start to pre-publication. The Course only assumes use of a word processor, and does not focus on any publication method (printed, electronic, whatever).
The Course cares for your new writer. It presents methods to reduce the uncertainty and the stress of writing. The Course teaches the easiest way to write, then revise the work. It also stresses to your new writer to have compassion for his/her reader. This helps create the excellent content that the User Document needs.
About the Course
Is the Course Relevant to Our Product and Publication Method?
Yes. The Course is relevant to any kind of product, be it software or a physical product such as a barbecue, phone, or entertainment system.
The Course focuses on what you write, and how to make that writing accessible, so the Reader can find it. It does not matter if the information is to be presented as a software popup, a printed or electronic manual.
What's In the Course?
Everything from attitude adjustment (to get your new writer to think about the Reader) to pre-publication. (We do not present any publication methods, but we do give some cautions related to some of them.)
We talk about formatting only in the context of making the User Document more effective for the Reader.
Here is a Course syllabus. In fact, this page is the actual main page of the Course. You can look it over to see the detail of the topics that the Course covers. Some of the links are active, so you can get a feel for the depth and style of coverage of the material in the Course.
Why This Course and Not Others
The Course guides the new writer. Unlike other courses -- especially face-to-face courses, where the student goes off to learn a lot of stuff, and then comes back to try to apply it -- our Course guides the student in the creation of his/her real-life writing.
This Course focuses on only one thing: creating a great User Document. Other technical writing courses deal with all aspects (superficially) of technical writing, including scientific writing and business writing. Often these courses degenerate into grammar courses.
Our Course only presents one point of grammar. The Course leaves the grammatical tuning to an editor, who will help your new writer produce a great document. The Course tells you where you can hire an editor at low cost, if necessary.
Ideal Time to Take This Course
The ideal time to take this Course is when you have a real writing project. The Course is guaranteed to guide the student through the creation of his/her real-life User Document.
If you have no writing project, then the Course tells you how to select a case study product.
What's Involved in Taking the Course? Format?
You download the Course from this website. The student uses his/her Web Browser to view the Course files. There is about seven hours of .mp3 audio, that explains the material in greater depth.
There are Rich Text Format (.rtf) files for the high-level User Document outline and other parts of the writing project. These can be read by any word processor and used as part of the new writer's User Document.
The Course is supported on the website (www.greatuserdocs.com).
When can we start? How Long Does it Take?
We recognize that time is of the essence. To help your new writer get going as soon as possible, we provide an on-line link where the new writer can begin the Course as soon as it is purchased.
If used properly and at the right time, the Course will take no time for the new writer. Here's my reasoning.
What tools do we need?
A word processor is all the software you will need. For the new writer, in an environment where fancy software is set up, we discourage taking the time to learn specialized packages. Our article for companies writing User Documents in-house specifically tells the new writer to avoid the lure of learning new writing technology at this time.
Buying the Course & Cost
Download the Course here.