Techniques

What is an instructional designer?

What is an instructional designer?

What is instructional design? Instructional design is the development of education materials, content, and delivery modes. Analysis of learner needs is an important initial stage, as is the identification of desired learning outcomes. Education technology is highly viable – you’ll hear terms like LX (learner experience) and LMS (learning management system) drawing from everything from…

Writing a news release

Writing a news release

The tech writing world rarely intersects with the news world, but news writing is still a handy skill to have. You might find yourself in a communications role – having to write a news release or announcement for a website, for example. Traditionally, the purpose of a news release was to attract the interest of a…

How much does a tech writer need to know?

How much does a tech writer need to know?

There’s an interesting tension in technical writing between knowing and not knowing. Tom Johnson, who blogs at www.idratherbewriting.com, tackled this question in an article on learner perspective. This is my take on the question of how much tech writers need to know about their subject matter. Knowing everything about a software application that you’re documenting…

Email or e-mail? How to create a style guide

Email or e-mail? How to create a style guide

Style guides are critical to our work as writers. They tell us how to spell words (Canadian or US?), how to hyphenate (email or e-mail?), how to punctuate (serial comma: yes or no?), how to capitalize (internet or Internet?), and how to write step-by-step procedures (is it “Click Enter” or “Select Enter”?). They lay out…

Ten Tips for Great Training

Ten Tips for Great Training

By Stephen Gauer You’re written the user guides and online help for the new application and now the client needs someone to train the staff. Why not take the plunge and add training to your skill set? Here are some tips from my 25 years of training: Tip #1: write a detailed script In the…

Book Review of the Global English Style Guide

Annotated copy of The Global English Style Guide

By Serena Beck, Membership Manager As an author of many internal style guides, I can appreciate the amount of effort and time required to create a style guide and ensure it’s followed. I have a good eye for detail and enjoy making the documentation I write consistent. I’ve been a technical writer for 11 years,…

Online Portfolios for Technical Writers

Online Portfolios for Technical Writers

If you’re starting your career as a technical writer, you should have an online portfolio to showcase your work. Your online portfolio should have a URL you can add to your LinkedIn profile, and be included on your resume, or pasted into the appropriate space on the online job application form. The goal of your…

Using Social Media for Your Job Search

Using Social Media for Your Job Search

Social media is one of the most useful tools within today’s competitive job market. Building a professional online presence and leveraging job-search features on social networking sites are powerful ways to access new and diverse opportunities. In the midst of my own career transition into technical writing, I have been actively searching for jobs and…

Training Best Practices: Creation and Delivery

Training Best Practices: Creation and Delivery

When designing training materials or organizing a training session, it is important to consider creation and delivery: What are my specific objectives for the lesson? What do I want my audience to know or discover? What kinds of hands-on activities should I plan? How can I measure my audience’s learning? Below are some best strategies…

Best Practices for Creating Online Help Systems

Best Practices for Creating Online Help Systems

Recently, I was tasked with critiquing a company’s online help system, commenting on deficiencies in its current documentation, and providing feedback on all aspects of user assistance. I also needed to rework existing content. This was a valuable exercise, as I was able to: learn more about the company’s products identify weaknesses in its online…

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