Reading Room: New Technical Writers Series


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Feel free to distribute any of the articles in this "Articles Library."  The only condition is that you do not modify, delete or add to any of the material in the article.  You must copy, send or publish the article in its entirety, including the Resources section of the article. 

Click on the article's title to read the article.

Beware of Your Editor/Love Your Editor (2006-10-20)

Your editor should be an integral part of your writing team.  Do not think of him/her as a judge, but rather as a resource to help you in all phases of the writing project.  This article will help you overcome any fear of your editor, and how to effectively use your editor during the writing process.

First Things to Do on the Project (2007-02-13)

You, a non-writer, have just been assigned to write the documentation for a product your company produces or markets.  You may be stressed out about the assignment.  Fear not! This article will get you started on the path to writing a successful document.

The Four Dimensions of Your User/Reader (2007-03-07)

To create an effective User Document, the writer must know who he/she is writing for.  This article presents four dimensions (Skills, Attitude, Knowledge and Experience) for describing the User of your product (your Documentation Reader), and how to build a Persona that turns your generic User into an almost-real person.   The article stresses the need to actually USE this information when structuring and writing your User Document.

Create the Most Useful Section of Your User Document (2007-03-09)

A good User Document includes sections on how to set up, use, and care for the product.  However, to create a great User Document , the technical writer should use the Persona, generated in the analysis of the User/Reader, to create the topics for the most useful section of the User Document.  This article describes this procedure.

Don't Confuse Your Reader with Your Words (2007-03-23)

Stop confusing your Reader with the words you use.  Your Reader is trying his/her best to understand how your product works without having to figure out your writing.  Here are some writing guidelines to help you stop baffling your Reader.

Avoiding the Interview-Writing Disconnect (2007-04-16)

Lost or garbled information is a terrible waste.  Especially if it's the information you gathered from an interview and must now write into your User Document.  Here's how to prevent that waste.

Don't Fear Writing!  (2007-08-22)

You're a non-writer who has just been assigned to write the User Documentation for your company's new product.  Your overwhelming emotion is fear, perhaps with some anger.  With any new activity there will be some anxiety.  Writing may have added anxiety because of your writing experience while you were a student. 

Writing User Documentation is not like the writing that you had to do in school.  Those activities were filled with anxiety and "writer's block."  In this article you will see how to overcome your writing anxieties so you can write a good User Document.