What This Course Is and Is Not

Table of Contents for this Reading

What This Course Is and Is Not1

What This Course Is Not1

1.  Specific Technology Related. 1

2.  Specific Publication Medium Related. 1

What This Course Is. 2

 

 

Let's get this out of the way right now.  This Course is designed to guide you in writing a great User Document.  It deals with WRITING, but happily NOT with grammar.

1.  Specific Technology Related

I don't want to discuss publishing programs, writing programs, content management, or any other specific software or hardware products that you may use to produce your document.

Technology Hungry.  I am a member of the Eastern Ontario Chapter of the Society for Technical communications (STC).  People make presentations at our meetings.  Invariably the questions focus on the software products that the presenters used in their documentation project.    It often seems that the listeners were more interested in the software ("gee, if I had that then I could write better") then the presenter's focus on document structure, development, and content.

I will mention a bit about Microsoft Word, as I use it in my writing.  I will mention something about Internet Supported Products (see our Course Glossary).  I will mention something about reusability and thoughts on Content Management.  But these technologies are far away from the focus of this Course.

This Course does not deal with:

O     Content Management Systems

O     Using any special writing tools
Beware of them, as those who you will be asking to read your writing (for evaluation purposes) must be able to access it; if you are using some esoteric writing software, your Readers (who we will call the Components Readers) might have to have the same software.
If you do use any specialized software to write, make sure that it can export your writing in a format that your Components Readers can read.

2.  Specific Publication Medium Related

This Course is not concerned with how you publish your User Documentation.  That documentation may be

O     Printed

O     Electronically Printed (e.g. a PDF file)
Although I do present some guidelines for electronic publication of your Document

O     Context Sensitive Help for a Software Product

O     Web-based

 

No matter how you produce or publish your document, it has got to have effective Content and Access to that Content.  This leads us to the next discussion point…

Your User Document must have good:

O     Content

O     Access to that Content

 

That's what this Course is about.

This Course is about writing for your Users.  You have to:

O     Include the information that your Users (Readers) want and need,

O     Make that information clear to them, and

O     Make that information accessible.

 

Aha! But this Course will not attempt to teach you grammar or the ideal wording for each of your sentences.  The Course focuses on Content and Access to that Content.

The Course will request you to hire an Editor (which I call an Editor/ProofReader) early in the project.  This person will support YOU by assisting in solving grammar and wording problems. 

So the Course will make it easy (and reduce your fear) to write the great User Document that your product deserves.

 

Slick presentation and high tech development will not help documentation that lacks content or effective access to that content. 

Great content and excellent access to that content will shine even in a simple presentation medium and developed with a simple word processor.

 Of Course, if you combine both, then you might produce a better product.

 But remember it is  Content and Access to that Content that are important in User Documentation.

 

 

 

 

 


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