Archive for 'technical author'

Work

My technical documentation experience has covered a wide variety of both offline and online disciplines for a wide range of engineering and financial companies. The table below details the companies I have worked for.

 

Employed as a Technical Author to produce a wide range of technical publications for electro-mechanical training aids and computer controlled flight simulators for the Tornado, HS125 and PC9 aircraft. Also employed to produce aircrew technical publications.
bnp paribas Employed within the IT Department as a Technical Author with the responsibility to update/create/write all the company’s IT procedures required for an external audit of the Channel Islands Territory IT department.
equity trust Employed within the IT Department as a Technical Author. My responsibilities were to create/write the company’s IT Infrastructure procedures and also the financial training/user procedures for their ViewPoint Content Management System (CMS).
translation services Employed as a Project Manager with responsibility for several of the company’s major clients. Duties involved liasing with the relevant companies Customer Support and Marketing departments and senior management to ensure that their respective publications were produced to the high standards and to the critical deadlines and budgets that the companies demanded.
technical writing Employed as a Senior Technical Author to write User Guides for the company’s Unix platform telecommunications intelligent network products.
Employed within the Training Department as the company’s Technical Author with the overall responsibility to create/write the company’s style guide and templates for the company’s internal/external training and customer facing documentation for their HUNTER II financial fraud software.
financial fraud Employed within the Product Development Department as a Technical Author with the responsibility to create/write the company’s internal/external training and customer facing documentation for their financial fraud software.
technical documentation Employed as a Documentation Consultant to create and implement a company style guide for their seismic data technical documentation. The style guide and documentation templates were to be used across the companies worldwide Intranet therefore they had to be interactive with all the systems the company used.
financial services Employed as a Technical Writer/Web Administrator within the Customer Services Department to maintain the company’s internal/external Knowledge Base, Customer Services websites and Online Support. Also worked as a Technical Writer to write/update the company’s documentation for their SWIFTAlliance financial telecommunications software.
technical writing Employed as a Documentation Consultant/Support Engineer within the Service Development Department to create a Technical Documentation Standard and Style Guide for the company’s European Database and Networking applications.

Services

Do you need the services of a technical documentation professional that will endeavour to lower your technical writing costs, and increase your productivity?

Do you need a technical communications expert to create the technical documentation for your products or services, audience specific user-friendly manuals, online help, or the content, design and upkeep of your website or intranet?

Do your technical publications need to be structured correctly to allow them to provide effective communication?

Is your documentation problem distracting you from other areas of your business?

Are you desperate to create high quality documentation for your software and associated products, but you don’t have either the staff or time to create the documentation you need for your business?

Does your technical documentation convey the right marketing image your company needs?

Does your existing documentation need a complete re-write or just a brief review and edit?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then I can help you.

technical writingI invite you to take advantage of my 25 years experience in technical communications and I believe we can work together to complete any project you have, not only on time, but within budget. I can offer you high value for your money and in return you will receive documentation of the highest quality and reliability.

I treat every job with the same amount of determination and dedication irrespective of how small. By giving me the opportunity to take charge of your documentation issues will help you to free-up your staff for more critical issues.

I fully appreciate that in the present financial climate it is not cost effective for a lot of companies to employer an in house technical writer. However, I am available to help you overcome this problem. Throughout my technical communication career I have single-handedly project managed large documentation assignments. This experience will allow me to develop your documentation to a standard that will enhance your company’s profile within your specific field.

The technical writer must be brought into a project early enough so that they can analyze the user needs in order to determine the type of deliverable required. Technical writers can contribute significantly due to their user-oriented perspective.

My experience as technical writer for some years has made me understand and appreciate the requirement for tight deadlines, tighter budgets, and heavy workloads. I have continually updated my technical writing skills to ensure that every project I am involved in gets done in the correct manner and on time.

If you let me take care of your technical documentation needs, then you can concentrate on what you do best, running your business.

Here are some of the services I can offer:

Document Standardisation, Design and Development

If your company needs help creating your technical documentation that can help your users to begin using your products or services right away, then I can help you create comprehensive documentation that will allow the intended audience to easily understand your products or services.

Comprehensive user documentation will effectively supplement the company’s marketing brochures and in turn enhance your company’s products or services presence in your field.

I can help you create user-friendly and reliable technical documentation that can set a professional benchmark and promote your organisations image. Also, I can help you with designing a better approach to structuring the writing standards for your company that will ensure that the technical content is consistent and appropriate for your products or services. Here are some of the types of documentation I have produced:

  • User Guides
  • Maintenance Manuals
  • Operating Manuals
  • Training Manuals
  • Troubleshooting Manuals
  • IT Internet Security Procedures
  • Financial Audit Procedures
  • Validation Procedures
  • Style Guides and Templates
  • Administration Guides
  • Installation Instructions
  • Procedural Documentation
  • Release Notes, and much more…

Operating Systems, Platforms and Software

I have written documentation for the following operating systems, platforms and software:

  • Windows NT, UNIX, SunOS, AIX and Windows 2000/2003,
  • XML source documents, Oracle databases and MS .Net infrastructure,
  • Compaq AlphaServer across a Unix Tru64, Oracle and SAP infrastructure
  • Storage Area Network (SAN) configurations.

Web Site Layout and Content

The written word is a powerful source of marketing. Good content about any product or service that is written on the Internet on the Internet is by far the best marketing tool a company can have. These days the Internet is fast becoming the major place that customers will get their first impressions of a company’s products or services.

The content on a company’s web site needs to be highest quality to draw the visitor’s attention to your products or services and in turn that content needs to impel the customer to take action.

I can provide you with clear and concise content that will help turn your company’s web site visitors into customers. I have an in-depth knowledge and experience of managing and maintaining corporate web sites and intranets.

  • Web site Design and Content Development
  • Intranet Design and Content Development
  • Content Strategy Plans

Document Management

Depending on the amount of technical documentation you have there is every possibility that you will need some form of content management system to be able to keep control of the documentation updates and storage.

I’ll work with you to get every detail related to your documentation and categorise and file each piece of documentation into a structured file system within a content management system.

Online Help

Online help plays a major part in how a customer rates not only your company’s web site but your products or services as well. There is nothing more frustrating to a user when they cannot find the information they are looking for. It is a major turn off for a lot of web users.

I can help you create accurate and useful online help for your product by determining how the end user will use your product, include information to answer their questions at an appropriate level of detail, and make the information easily accessible. Help systems like:

  • Online Help and Training Tutorials
  • HTML Help
  • WebHelp (cross browser web-based help)
  • WinHelp

Proofreading and Editing

Technical proofreading and editing is not just a question of checking for misspelled words and proper comma use. It is much more than that. It is a quality control of the complete document.

Throughout my technical communications career it has been my responsibility to ensure that I perform a meticulously thorough proofreading and editorial check on the documentation. This makes sure that the document is not only correct, but also functional for the intended readers.

Marketing

Great sales and marketing materials don’t just sell your product or services but they also establish a trust and credibility in the way that people value your company. A best way to portray this is to ensure that the marketing artwork and content complement each other in the promotion of your company’s products or services. The marketing services include:

  • Brochures and E-mail Campaigns
  • Marketing Presentations
  • Proposals and Newsletters
  • Product Description

Publishing and Content Management Software

Proficient with the following publishing tools: MS Software Suite, Adobe FrameMaker SGML, RoboHelp, Adobe Photoshop, Visio, Dreamweaver, SnagIt and Adobe Acrobat.

Proficient with using the following content and document management systems: Livelink, Peoplesoft, Sharepoint and ViewPoint.

I am ready to provide you with all my technical communications experience and knowledge and prove that the multiple skills that I have acquired will benefit you and your business. I look forward to working with you in the future.

An Insight Into Using Simplified English

I think that Simplified English does something that is logical with a complex language. It uses nouns as nouns and limits the meaning of a word so that the reader knows exactly what that word means all the time. A good word to describe what Simplified English does is Efficiency. An article in the Times in 1987 stated: With Simplified English we may at last be on the threshold of making English logical and tidy. Will Simplified English work within all areas of English usage? Think what would happen to politics if all politicians said what they meant without any ambiguity.

Most technical authors I know who use Simplified English say they find that it works when writing maintenance procedures but are not as complementary about it when they have to write descriptions or operations. Having to spend a lot of time looking up approved or unapproved words in the dictionary was their main objection. They also did not like having to translate, into Simplified English, existing and sometimes poorly written publications. A significant decrease in their productivity was noticed when they first started to use Simplified English.

simplified englishSome technical authors felt it was “hard to learn a new trick” and the new concept should be introduced in phases. They obviously felt that it was going to take some time to get used to the “new system”. With Simplified English grammar skills need attention so that the technical author knows how to identify the nouns, verbs and function words. It might be easy knowing the word to use, but selecting a replacement for an unapproved word is the difficult part, even with extensive examples. It is not always possible to use the selected alternative, if there is one. In some instances, the dictionary will say that a word is unapproved, but the only alternative is to use a different construction.

My first attempts with Simplified English took a few rewrites until I had mastered it. I have found that once you have used Simplified English on a few occasions you get used to the limited vocabulary and tend to use the same words all the time. When I have used Simplified English I have looked more critically at the text written and this has forced me to be clear and precise. A good example of before and after Simplified English is:

Before: It is equally important that there should be no seasonal changes in the procedures, as, although aircraft fuel system icing due to water contamination is more often met with in winter, it can be equally dangerous during the summer months.

After: Use the same procedures all the time, because water in the fuel system can freeze during winter or summer.

As the aerospace industry uses a lot of maintenance procedures it was quite apparent that the Simplified English language was needed to overcome all the language problems. Therefore with this approved vocabulary and set of rules, technical authors writing in English, worldwide, will be able to write in the same, clear consistent style to present information that is easy to understand by the international aerospace industry.

Simplied English – Vocabulary and Parts of Speech

Simplified English can be described as a controlled language that is a subset of “normal” English. It consists of a simplified vocabulary of about 1,000 words. These words have clearly defined meanings and they contain a set of rules (about 55) for using the vocabulary.

The approved words and rules are not set in stone because the vocabulary does not contain all the words in the English language. If when using Simplified English in their writing a technical writer / technical author comes across words that are missing, then these would have to be added to the vocabulary. The words in the vocabulary are made up from three sources.

  1. Approved Words.
  2. Technical Names.
  3. Manufacturing Processes.

Using these vocabulary words as parts of speech is the major part of Simplified English.

Parts of Speech : Nouns

Within the Simplified English dictionary Nouns are categorised as Approved Nouns or Technical Names. Wherever possible they must be preceded by a definite article (The), a demonstrative adjective (This) or an indefinite article (a). As the Simplified English vocabulary is limited, the same word may have to be used many times. Synonyms must not be used once a word is chosen it must be continued with. Noun clusters must be avoided at all times. In Simplified English noun clusters of more than three words must be broken up by either:

  • hyphenating;
  • rewriting;
  • a combination of both.

Technical names must be hyphenated to show relationship if the noun cluster is four or more words.

Verbs

Within Simplified English you must only use the Verbs stated in the dictionary. The …ing form of the verb must not be used. Here are a few examples of the verb Drain:

  • Infinitive: To drain
  • Simple future: To drain
  • Simple present: He/She drains
  • Simple past: He/She drained
  • Past participle: He/She drained.

The past participle must only be used as an adjective either with:

  • a noun (The adjusted link is behind the pillar);
  • or after the verbs To Be or To Become (The wires become disconnected from the switch).

The remaining parts of speech (Pronouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, Conjunctions and Prepositions) are used as in conventional English. That is, provided the words in the dictionary are only used as the part of speech indicated.

Having summarised the type of words that make up the Simplified English vocabulary how are these words together to form sentences and paragraphs? There are four types of sentences used in Simplified English:

  1. Statements;
  2. Procedural instructions;
  3. Questions;
  4. Combinations with linking clauses.

The construction of sentences with Simplified English are governed by eight basic rules:

  1. Make instructions as specific as possible.
  2. Do not use abstracts.
  3. Keep to one task per sentence.
  4. Keep sentences short (maximum 20 words).
  5. For descriptive text, one sentence in 10 may be 25 words long.
  6. Do not omit verbs or nouns to make a sentence shorter.
  7. When counting sentence length. A colon (:) or dash (-) count as a full stop.
  8. If a dependant clause is included then it must start the sentence and be separated from the instruction by a comma.

The construction of paragraphs with Simplified English are governed by ten basic rules.

  1. Always start a paragraph with a topic subject.
  2. Each paragraph must cover only one subject.
  3. The maximum length of a paragraph is six sentences.
  4. Use a variety of sentence lengths and constructions to keep the text interesting.
  5. Vary the length of paragraphs.
  6. Do not use one sentence paragraphs more than once in every ten paragraphs (descriptive text only).
  7. Do not overload the text, present new information slowly.
  8. Use a tabular layout of text to help show relationships between complex actions and results.
  9. Try to use the active voice.
  10. Try to end a paragraph with a statement that will form a link with the next paragraph.

The writing of procedures in Simplified English must be in the Active tense. For descriptive text one sentence in ten may be in the passive tense. To change passive to active you can either:

  • change the subject of the sentence;
  • change an infinitive verb for an active verb;
  • change the verb to a commanding form;
  • use the personal pronouns We and You.

Here is an example of the passive and active tenses of the same sentence.

The main landing gear is supported by the side stay. This is Passive because the subject suffers the action of the verb.

The side stay supports the main landing gear. This is Active because the subject does the action of the verb.

A Full stop (.), Comma (,), Colon (:) or Dash (—) are used in Simplified English as in normal English. The other two methods of punctuation, the Bracket (()) and Hyphen (-) have specific rules governing their use in Simplified English.

There are four circumstances when Brackets are used.

  1. To make condensed figure/text references.
  2. To set off text that is not part of the main statement.
  3. To mark text where the separation by Commas is insufficient.
  4. For letters of numbers that indicate items of a list or steps of procedure.

Hyphens are used as a joining signal. There are seven circumstances when Hyphens are used.

  1. Two-word terms used together.
  2. Two-word fractions or numbers.
  3. Adjectives that consist of three or more words.
  4. Terms that consist of a capital letter or a number and a noun.
  5. Compound verbs consisting of a verb and a noun.
  6. Terms in which a prefix ends, with and the root word begins with a vowel.
  7. Terms in which two one syllable words are written together.

Care must be taken when using a Warning or Caution in Simplified English. You must be certain that the right one is being used. A warning or caution must not be a general statement. They must start with a clear and simple command. A brief explanation may be added, if necessary, to give a clear idea of the possible risk involved. A Warning is a danger of injury to people. A Caution is the danger of damage to equipment.

What Is Simplified English?

Information within technical manuals must be: accurate, complete, relevant, concise, convincing, meaningful and unambiguous before it can be of any use. These seven characteristics all make significant contributions to a technical publication but they are of little use unless there is a precise and clear understanding of the contents by the widest range of users anticipated.

simplified englishSimplified English is a subset of “normal” English that technical writers (technical authors in the UK) can use to improve the readability of aircraft maintenance procedures. Simplified English is not “Simple English” as it demands a very sound working knowledge of conventional English and much greater concentration and awareness by the technical writer / technical author. Simplified English does not cover up for a lack of writing skills. It was designed to be easy for the reader to learn and understand so that the text need not have to be translated. However, if translation is required then Simplified English will make the task easier because of its one word – one meaning philosophy.

Simplified English is a controlled language that has a simplified vocabulary (about 1,000 words), with clearly defined meanings, that has a set of rules (about 55) for using the vocabulary. The approved words and rules are not frozen because not all the words in the English language are included. Technical writers / technical authors might come across words that are missing and consequently these words would have to be added to the vocabulary. The vocabulary words are from three sources.

Approved Words

These are words that are in the Simplified English dictionary. Approved words are indicated in the dictionary as upper case. Only the parts of speech and definitions assigned to the approved word can be used.

If a word is shown as a noun it cannot be used as a verb. An example is the word Test, it is used as a noun and not a verb. Do the leak test for the system  not test the system for leaks.

Technical Names

These are words that fit into one of the categories listed in Simplified English (adjectives and nouns). Technical names can be regarded as un-restricted and are names specified and approved by the company or companies involved.

There are four basic rules covering the use of technical names:

  1. Use only as a noun or an adjective.
  2. Use only the official technical name.
  3. Do not use different technical names for the same thing.
  4. If there is a choice, use the simplest, most easily understood alternative.

There are 20 different categories of technical names:

  • Names in official parts information.
  • Names of locations on the aircraft.
  • Names of tools or equipment.
  • Names of materials and consumables.
  • Names of aircraft support facilities.
  • Names of circuits or systems, their parts or locations in them.
  • Names of persons,groups or bodies.
  • Names of technical records.
  • Mathematical, scientific or engineering terms.
  • Navigational terms.
  • Medical terms.
  • Damage terms.
  • Headings and topics used in specifications.
  • Documents, manuals or parts of a manual.
  • Parts of the body.
  • Units of measurement or dial markings.
  • Numbers.
  • Common personal effects.
  • Environmental conditions.
  • Colours.

Manufacturing Processes

These are words that fit into one of six categories listed in Simplified English (always verbs).

  1. One that removes material.
  2. One that adds material.
  3. One that attaches material.
  4. One that changes the mechanical strength, structure and or physical properties of a material.
  5. One that changes the surface finish of a material.
  6. One that changes the shape of a material.

There are two basic rules covering the use of manufacturing processes:

  1. You must use only the official manufacturing process term.
  2. You can only use a manufacturing process as a verb.

The Origins of Simplified English

Any technical author who has experience in the preparation of technical documentation will appreciate the problems that arise when trying to select the right words. Do you start, commence, begin, or initiate an action? Not a problem to a reader whose mother tongue is English, but to the rest of the world it can be confusing to use more than one word for the same meaning.

Throughout the centuries there have been numerous proposals to reform the English language. Even in the United States the Simplified Spelling Board was set up to try to come to terms with a much simpler form of English. Mr Al Morin the former chairman of the American Simplified English committee said:

“The problems of publishing technical information are probably more diverse than those of any other publishing process. Not only is the information itself expanding at a tremendous rate, but it can come from diverse sources, such as the engineer who creates the product to the people who manufacture, inspect, service, and use it. All these people write and they all write to convey, often complex, information. The basic purpose of all writing is to get a message across to the reader: it must convey exact meaning. To serve this purpose well, it must be capable of being easily read and easily understood.”

More often than not, writing does get the intended message across but there are occasions when even the largest companies can fail.

simplified englishThe aerospace industry is one industry where the need for a standardisation of language was necessary. As English has been the official language of aviation since 1948, and since then many technical authors and translators, of many nationalities, have been busy either composing text in English or translating it into English. Consequently, all these people worked without any form of common standard of a form of controlled English that they could use based around a specific technical dictionary.

Therefore with this in mind, the major airlines within the aerospace industry, identified the need for a clear communication of complex maintenance data with some form of technical English.

In the late 1970’s the Association of European Airlines (AEA) asked the European Aviation Industry Association – Association Europeenne des Constructeurs de Materiel Aerospatial (AECMA) to apply a form of basic English to future documentation.

As a result the AECMA documentation working group was set up. The working group researched all the procedural text within the existing manuals and came up with its initial suggestions for improvement. The initial suggestions had highlighted the need to rationalise the number of verbs that were originally used. A list of recommended verbs and a draft set of writing rules were published in 1983. These rules give the guide-lines for the construction of sentences, paragraphs and the use of punctuation. In 1984 similar exercises took place to select nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions.

When the study group had completed their research the AECMA simplified English version became a standard for the aerospace industry to use for all their technical documentation.

Simplified English had an earlier predecessor in the form of the limited word technical dictionary that was developed by McDonnell Douglas in 1979. The dictionary included 1,952 preferred words from the McDonnell Douglas technical manuals.

Prior to McDonnell Douglas the Caterpillar Tractor Company realised in 1971 that they had been struggling with the problems of communicating technical information to their non-English speaking distributors and customers. The company at the time had more than 20,000 publications that needed to be understood by people speaking a lot of different languages. Caterpillar Fundamental English, which was again a limited vocabulary was introduced. Caterpillar evaluated and rejected Basic English and Esperanto, because of their limited technical vocabularies, before deciding to develop Fundamental English.

What Is Technical Writing?

If you are a writer and you are looking for a career in writing but are not sure what area of writing are most appropriate for your skills. The question: “what is technical writing” springs to mind every time you see a job vacancy for a technical writing position. As it is quite possible that you have never heard of technical writing you begin to wonder if you would even been qualified to pursue it as a career.

If you start to think about the phrase “technical writing” I think you will realise it is exactly what is says it is. It doesn’t need a complex description to explain what it is because it is basically writing technical information.

technical writingTechnical writing is a form of technical communication. It is a style of writing that is used in every field of industry, commerce and business. It is used in such fields as the aerospace industry, financial services, engineering, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and even government offices. That is just a small variety of areas where technical documentation can be found.

Basically, if there is a need for any form of technical communication then you will find that technical writing will play some part in delivering the information to the intended audience. Technical writing is the means of communicating any form of technology to both technical and non technical audiences.

Let’s say a domestic appliance manufacturer has a new dishwasher they are about to bring to the market. That dishwasher will need some form of user guide to explain how to use it. That is where technical writing comes in to the equation. A technical writer or technical author (as some prefer to be known) will determine what the intended audience will need to understand how to use the dishwasher. The technical writer will then develop the user guide based on their research of the intended audience’s needs. That is just an example of one of many applications where technical writing can be used to communicate technical information.

Technical writing is an excellent career for anybody that has the necessary qualifications and technical knowledge for the specific products or services. To be able to successfully write technical documentation you will not only need to possess good writing and grammar skills but also some technical knowledge of the products or services so that you can write intelligently about the subject.

Most employers tend to look for technical writers who have at least some form of academic qualification in the discipline that they want the technical writer to write about.

More often than not you tend to find that if as a technical writer you at least have knowledge and technical understanding of the technology field you are interested in then you can forge a great career in technical writing for yourself.

Technical writing can involve producing various types of documents for a single product. These documents can vary from a user guide, technical specification, operating manual, maintenance manual, troubleshooting guide or even all of the mentioned.

You do not have to understand the subject of the technical documents because technical writing requires that you be able to decipher and use the terms that arise in the everyday usage of the products or services with your industry.

Although technical writing does not require an intimate knowledge of every function of every item you write about, it does mean that you will need to have some experience in the field you are writing about.

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Technical Communication

This website has been created to keep anybody that is interested in Technical Communications up-to-date with what I believe to be most relevant topics a Technical Writer or Technical Author (as some prefer to be known as) needs to be aware of.

Technical communication refers to any kind of technical documentation whether it is user guides, maintenance/operating manuals, technical specifications, style guides, diagrams, illustrations, reference guides, on-screen help, interface text, or any other form of content that communicates technical principles and concepts in an easy-to-understand way.

It is difficult to determine one single definition of Technical Communications because it extends into so many different areas of technology and media presentation. It also brings together different forms of creativity, writing, artwork, video and numerous other ways of displaying the information.

technical communicationBasically, you can think of it as telling the intended audience how to do things, and relying on the communication method to manage the process and any changes that are necessary. The information is communicated via numerous tools that are available to the technical writer, and the great thing about it all is that as a technical writer you are actually getting paid to write.

To be a good technical communicator you have to be creative because you have to take into account the different audiences that are going to use your information. Also you must have an appreciation of the different types of media you will use to get your message across. You have to convey your information in a way that will that will not only inform and engage your intended audience but will make it easier for them to understand.

Commerce, science and technology play a big part in the everyday principles of technical communication. Each of these major areas of industry has a need for technical communicators. In fact there are many areas within these businesses where technical writers play a major role in developing not only the technical documentation for these organisations but also their business documentation and development plans as well.

It is very important that the technical communicator understands the processes and procedures that the company he is working for. It is no good for the company’s image if the person who is writing their documentation doesn’t understand what the company’s products or processes are. That is why the majority of majority of these companies require that the technical communicator has some for qualifications in the discipline that whey will be writing about.

History of Technical Communications

There are different schools of thought as to the origin of technical communications. Some say it started as far back as Ancient Greece, the Renaissance period or even the mid 20th Century. However, there was a noticeable increase towards use of technical documentation by certain military, aerospace and electronics companies following the First World War.

What is more qualified than the theory in the previous paragraph is that in 1953 in the United States two organisations (the Society of Technical Writers, and the Association of Technical Writers and Editors) were formed to improve the quality and practice of technical communication. In 1957 these two organisations merged to form the Society of Technical Writers and Editors, a predecessor of the current Society for Technical Communication (STC).

Whilst, in the United Kingdom the amalgamation of three existing associations (the Presentation of Technical Information Group, the Technical Publications Association and the Institute of Technical Publicity and Publications) created the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC).

What do Technical Communicators do?

The majority of people believe that technical communicators are just writers that create technical manuals (i.e. maintenance manuals, user guides etc,). Today, that theory is so far from reality because times have changed dramatically, and I have to say, for the better! Today’s technical communicator creates their information for a wide range of businesses, products, processes by using a wide range of media applications.

technical communicatorDepending on the industry that a technical communicator is working in will determine what type of information that will produce. It will not just be technical manuals, it could be business reports, white papers, style guides, content management intranets, websites, software programs and they might also be involved in the testing procedures for the company’s products or software.

The types of jobs available within the technical communications industry are documentation manager, technical writer, online help developer, web creator/designer, information developer, etc.

Technical communicators are in high demand and can be found working in a wide variety of commercial and engineering establishments. You tend to find that certain geographical areas tend to specialise in particular areas. Technical communicators can be found working for financial and insurance institutions, engineering companies, telecommunications, pharmaceutical companies, local and national government departments, defence organisations, etc.

Technical communication is classed as a professional task that allows businesses the opportunity to either employ skilled personnel, or outsource their needs to the relevant technical communication companies.

The process of creating information products or processes in technical communication begins with technical communicator determining who the eventual audience will be and clearly identifying the information they need. The next step is for the technical communicator to research the amount of content needed and to build a structured framework for the information.

The way most technical documentation is created can be categorised under the heading of the ‘Writing Process’. This has been a central focus of writing theory since the early 1970s, and many ways has been significantly applied to producing technical communications.

For a lot of employees technical communication is a very important part of their everyday working life. Most engineers, software developers, web designers, flight engineers and even pilots come into contact with technical communications in one form or another.

Technical communications allows the relevant information to be supplied in a concise manner and is very clear in its meaning if done correctly.