On Monday, October 3, 2016, eight technical writers braved the rain to eat tacos, debate style guides, review award-winning technical writing, and contemplate other interesting topics. The STC Canada West Coast chapter President, Stephen Gauer, brought award-winning documentation from the 2016 STC International Summit Awards for us to peruse and discuss.
We discussed style guides and the fact that having a group of writers making style decisions can be challenging. One attendee suggested “taking personality out of it” and letting logic and usability determine whether, for example, headings should use sentence case or initial capital letters. Another pointed out that sentence-case headings are easier to translate and scan.
Next, we talked about being a member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC). We discussed the value of membership, given that free training and other writing resources and forums are available online for posting and researching technical writing questions and answers. We discussed the amount of data that is gathered and posted through social media, the importance of a return on membership investment, and the benefits of members collaborating and volunteering together.
We ended the evening discussing tips for converting your career from one type of writing to another: for example, from journalist to technical writer. In that situation, a writer would already have great writing and editing skills as well as interview skills, which would help to extract information from subject matter experts (SMEs) and developers. A technical writer would also need to learn software and tools quickly.
Join us for our next Vancouver Island Tech Comm Café on the evening of Thursday, January 19, 2017. We’ll have an HR guest speaker from a local software company who will give us tips for job interviews and answer questions. Location and time TBA.
Check http://stcwestcoast.ca/ for details, or contact admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca and ask to be added to the mailing list. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to admin (at) stcwestcoast.ca.
The Tech Comm Café provides networking opportunities, job leads, answers to work-related dilemmas, and a burst of professional energy to keep you motivated. We discuss technical writing tools and techniques, career planning, portfolios, and anything else related to working as a technical communicator.
We welcome anyone who’s interested in technical communication — contractor, in-house, student, long-time tech writer, STC member, non-member, career-changer, or recruiter. We hope to see you at the next meeting!
This article was written by serenabeck
Serena Beck has been a technical writer for 13 years and currently writes about blood and plasma hardware and software. She is the president of the STC Canada West Coast chapter.