Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors Textbook Binding – 1 Dec 1997
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From the Back Cover
The #1 guide to excellence in documentation!
Create documentation that even the most demanding users will appreciate!
All you need to deliver top-quality technical information -- in print, online, and on the Web!
- Extensive, practical before-and-after examples
- Sample windows, illustrations, excerpts, tables, checklists, and more
- Smarter ways to use visuals
- Based on the experience of professionals at an IBM software laboratory for over 10 years
- For every writer, editor, designer, and reviewer of technical information
Straight from IBM's own software documentation experts, this is the first practical guide to developing excellent technical information.
From start to finish, you'll learn how to create documentation that's easy for users to find, understand, and use.
Discover how to make sure your documentation focuses on the tasks and topics users care about. Learn style points and organization techniques that help users access information quickly -- and use it effectively. See how to use graphics and other visual elements to deliver useful information in inviting ways. Walk through the review process, and learn ways to add the most value using minimal words.
Whether you're a writer, editor, designer, or reviewer, if you want to create great documentation, this book shows you how!
“Developing Quality Technical Information is unequaled in the field today as a comprehensive textbook on how to do technical communications right. Every technical communicator around the world can surely apply this model to their information; those that do so systematically will surely see an improvement in the quality of their deliverables." Lori Fisher, Manager, Data Management User Technology, IBM; Instructor, University of California Extension Santa Cruz
"The writers have done an excellent job of keeping the editorial advice simple and clear enough for technical writers who didn't major in English or journalism. The book should make a very good technical writing and editing text in universities, but I think it will be even more valuable for experienced writers, editors, and managers concerned with raising the quality of their publishing programs." Carolyn Mulford, Freelance Writer and Editor Instructor, Georgetown University Continuing Education
About the Author
The authors have served on the Editing Council at IBM Silicon Valley Laboratory in San Jose, California, an organization dedicated to excellence in technical information. Gretchen Hargis is a technical manager at IBM for a group that provides user assistance and user-centered design for application development tools. She was a technical editor and writer and a pioneer of IBM Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA). Michelle Carey is a technical writer at IBM and a technical writing instructor at University of California Santa Cruz Extension. She is an expert on topic-based information systems and on writing for international audiences. Ann Kilty Hernandez is a technical editor at IBM and has been a technical writer, manager, and marketing specialist. She was a co-author of An Introduction to DB2 for OS/390 and contributed to its next edition, The Official Guide to DB2 UDB for z/OS. Polly Hughes, now retired from IBM, worked as a visual designer for technical information and software interfaces and as a technical writer. Deirdre Longo is a technical editor and writer at IBM who edits product interfaces and writes customer information, mostly for content management products. Shannon Rouiller is a technical editor at IBM who has written and edited topicbased information systems, books, contextual help, wizards, and interfaces for products that are marketed worldwide. She co-authored Designing Effective Wizards. Elizabeth Wilde is a technical editor at IBM and a leader in developing quality metrics and quality assurance processes for technical documentation. She also educates writers and editors throughout IBM on developing user-centered information.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Readers wanting ideas and examples for writing software manuals might also consider "Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry" written by Sun Technical Publications.
I own both books, and have found them invaluable.
The book covers ease of use, ease of understanding, and ease of retrieval of information. It then discusses how to apply the quality characteristics that have been covered in the preceding chapters and how to ensure that those characteristics have been met. Throughout these chapters, extensive "before and after" examples are provided, helping to clarify the points made.
Appendixes provide a quality checklist, a definition of who checks which characteristic, and a correlation of quality characteristics and information elements.
I have bought many copies of this book, which I have given to systems architects, project planners, programmers, and testers who were required, as part of their job, to write technical information. In doing this, I was being entirely selfish. In a grossly understaffed editorial department, I needed to educate those "authors" in correct and appropriate grammar and punctuation, to help them write more clearly and, thus, reduce the workload on my tiny editorial group. Of all the options available, this excellent book was most likely to succeed.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Whether the book "enshrines mediocre technical writing," as someone mentioned, is debatable. The goal of product documentation is simple: Answer the user's question as fast as possible, and get the user productive as fast as possible. There's certainly a place for creativity, but one can't lose sight of the goals, and I think the book's merit is that it focuses persistently on those goals: How do you, the writer, best serve the user's interests?
It's also important to have a guide like this because if you work in a small company, other folks are going to have strong ideas about how the documentation should look. They will want to constantly be inserting feel-good "marketing" messages into the documentation, reminding customers of how wise they were for buying the product. They will have strong opinions about what "concepts" should be stressed over and over. As a writer, you represent the user's interests, and you have to be able to stand up and say "that doesn't work to the user's advantage, and we shouldn't do it like that." If you have a reference to back you up on these points, you'll be much more comfortable taking a strong stand in favor of Usability. And, in the end, that is exactly what any documentation specialist should be standing for. (Yes, I did end on a preposition.)
If you are writing help, or any other technical documentation, this *is* the book for you. Coverage of the subject is just right. It's not too overloaded and it's not to light on the subject either.
The only thing missing that I wish they had was recommended templates for different types of documentation. If this book had a CD with samples, it would be worth 2 or 3 times the amount I paid for it.
I highly recommend this book.
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