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Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content Paperback – 1 May 2009
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Top customer reviews
The text is well-structured, clearly written and accessible.
In places it does seem lightweight and lacking in detail. For example the section on graphics software takes one and a half pages to suggest what programs you might use to draw shapes, draw flow charts, and take screen shots. I found it rather obvious and not very informative.
Most of the book however has informative sections on topics that had not crossed my mind when considering working as a technical writer, such as planning of documentation, obtaining information when no user guide exists yet, and writing for a global audience.
The chapter about indexing uses somewhat idiosyncratic terminology, referring to main headings and subheadings as primary entries and secondary entries. The text gives good advice on the most important aspects of making an index and it stresses the importance of thinking on behalf of the reader and providing multiple access points to information, something that most indexes do not do enough of.
The book's index, unfortunately, does not follow its own advice and needs serious editing. It seems to cover the ground all right; everything I tried to look up was in there. The trouble was that I had to wade through lots of distracting kludges to get to them. For example, "dots per inch see DPI" is followed on the very next line by "DPI". Sometimes it follows the rule that countable nouns should be in the plural and sometimes it does not, e.g. "client", "orphan" and "job". There are some unlikely headings that nobody will ever think of looking up, such as "following", "results of step", and "level of". The index has one very strange entry, "technical writing", with fourteen subheadings. Either the entire book should be indexed under this entry with about 16 pages of subheadings, or this entry should be omitted altogether. Most trained indexers, I think, would choose the latter. Editing would make the index smaller and easier to use.
Reading this book will not make you a technical author; the examples are too simple and there are no practice exercises. It is a good first step though as you will be knowledgeable, in general terms, about the nature of the discipline and you will be be able to make an informed decision about your next steps.
It deserves a better index.
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