Guest Post: Core Skills for Technical Writers Often Overlooked

Vinish Garg

The following is a guest post by Vinish Garg, Director of Operations in Technical Documentation at vhite systems.

When I watched the Master Chef series (Australian version and then Indian version) last year, an important lesson for contestants was to not focus only on extraordinary or most creative dishes. The judges never really looked only for creativity, fancy ingredients, and garnishing. To the judges, adherence to instructions, balance, presentation, and the basics of a dish was equally important.

Most of the tech comm resources, including blogs, white papers, open forums, presentations, and workshops at local or global events, talk about topics such as XML or DITA, single sourcing, indexing, documentation management, or usability. It makes sense since we all know that the technical documentation practices are evolving faster than ever before. So the current and next generation should be well-equipped to handle the challenges.

However, I feel that somewhere along the way, mastery of the basics has been overlooked.

I have been developing technical documentation for eight years now. My general work routine involves (a) being a documentation manager, (b) training new technical writers, (c) writing procedures and instructions, and (d) participating in online community activities.

At this stage, I feel that the industry veterans are passing the baton to me, and at the same time, I am passing the baton to the next generation of technical writers. I have also realised that passing the baton to next generation is a greater and more challenging responsibility since they look to us for input and direction.

The Current Generation of Technical Writers

When I look to hire contractors, the most important factor for me is to evaluate the documentation and professional skills in the resume itself. While responding to open positions for my projects, many candidates apply with two to six years of experience. They claim to have developed world class documents in agile work environments, using global technology and enterprise platforms.

However, I am often let down. Here’s how:

  • Email: The emails that applicants write when applying for an open position are poor.
  • Resume: The resumes are even less satisfying.
  • Professional etiquettes: There is no follow-up, and no thank-you emails.
  • Last and most unfortunate: When they ask me for comments or feedback, a few of them scoff at my polite yet professional comments.

The ability to fix CSS, compile the help file in Flare, set up a wiki, or use cross references in Microsoft Word are all good technical writing skills. But I wonder if this is enough. How can an experienced technical writer apply with a poor resume (most of the resumes are pathetic)?

Basic skills, especially writing skills, seem to be missing somewhere. And when I see that eight out of every ten candidates lack these basic skills, it’s unfortunate. I would go so far as to say that this is a disrespect to the profession.

In a way, it is like the chef who places the knife on the left side of the plate while serving a dish. There is more to being a good chef than merely knowing about garlic, olives, cream, and spinach. It’s also about mastering the basics.

The Responsibility

I guess there is nothing wrong with the way these technical writers were trained or groomed. Grasping the basics comes from within. Qualities such as attention to detail in email, a well-written resume, and the whole approach to apply and then respond professionally to open positions are not required to earn additional points in the interview. These qualities should be mastered by one’s own sense of pride as a technical writer.

A good resume and a professional email can demonstrate a technical writer’s core competencies. These two simple outputs help show the communication skills of a technical writer, provide respect to the profession, demonstrate value in being part of the technical communication community, and help pass standards on to the next generation.

The Spirit of Documentation

For technical writers who miss the basics, there are often no questions about their documentation skills. The manuals they develop may be excellent. I would not be surprised to see that their documents meet the agreed usability criteria, follow style guidelines, adhere to processes, and are delivered on time.

Despite this, I suspect that the “soul” of the documentation is missing somewhere. I can’t quite pinpoint it – I am still looking for answers. But it seems their priorities are a little off. Why is it that planning an index is more important than clearly articulating the technical concepts of the application? Why is that writing a professionally accurate email is less important than drawing up project requirements? Why is it that attention to grammatical detail becomes secondary to promoting the latest agile scrum methodology? It’s the “little” things that get left behind.

The Challenge

We can expect a similar apathy from the beginners and the next generation of technical writers, largely due to the current socio-psychology of society, coupled with easy and increased access to technology. Their zeal to learn and master tools, training programs, and advanced documentation practice is an encouraging sign. In the same tide, we need to ensure that they too do not skip over the basics.

The fresh graduates do not hesitate to send me a LinkedIn request, or to connect with me on Facebook, or even for Zorpia and other social media platforms. I do not mind this, but when I see that it’s more important for them to build their online profile than to maintain professionalism in email or other communication, I think this is unfortunate.

We cannot afford to overlook the basics. We need to ensure that young hands align well with veteran hands. Let us cultivate a work culture that instills a sense of professional responsibility along with the pride of being a technical writer. We need to ensure that we do not forget basic writing skills.

Vinish Garg works as Director of Operations in Technical Documentation at vhite systems. For the last eight years, he has developed technical documentation (B2B, B2C, and B2E) for global businesses.

You can learn more about Vinish at the following links:

To contact Vinish, send him an email at vinish.garg@vhite.com.

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By Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer working for The 41st Parameter in San Jose, California. I'm primarily interested in topics related to technical writing, such as visual communication (video tutorials, illustrations), findability (organization, information architecture), API documentation (code examples, programming), and web publishing (web platforms, interactivity) -- pretty much everything related to technical writing. If you're trying to keep up to date about the field of technical communication, subscribe to my blog either by RSS or by email. To learn more about me, see my About page. You can also contact me if you have questions.

50 thoughts on “Guest Post: Core Skills for Technical Writers Often Overlooked

  1. Dawn Baird

    Vinish, I couldn’t agree more. We occasionally ask for writers to send CVs and I’d agree wholeheartedly with your rough analysis that 80% are poorly written. For me, writing skills are not basic skills, they are central to everything that follows. You can teach someone to use Robohelp, build a Wiki or negotiate the setup process with AuthorIT. What you don’t have time to teach is writing skills and why they’re so important when applying for a position as a Technical Writer. The fact that most applications completely miss the point is very worrying. I would not risk my application on such a person, yet as you say, many are personally offended when you point out even a few of the major flaws in their CVs.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Dawn

      Thank you for your comment.
      When you say **What you don’t have time to teach is writing skills and why they’re so important when applying for a position as a Technical Writer.**, it is not about time. It is about personal responsibility.

      Why an experienced techncial writer needs to be told about basic/core pointers? If writers can write huge manuals in MS Word or HTML, do they really to be told to set document properties or to use Styles in their MS Word based resumes? I do not think so. Missing core skills is LESS about the flawed training programs/courses and is MORE about the personal responsibility that comes from within.

  2. Lyn Maloney

    Thank you for posting this reality check. As a 25-year veteran in the field, I have noticed this problem in the last several years and nobody has addressed it as articulately as you have. I thought I was just a dinosaur …

  3. Anne Sandstrom

    It seems that the bar for writing skills has been lowered in general. With the proliferation of blogs, wikis, and other social sharing platforms, everyone writes. I think that as a result, many people are under the mistaken impression that they can write. Of course, as we well know, just filling a page with words is not good writing. In the current atmosphere, it’s no wonder that writers don’t aspire to excellence as they once did.

    Organizing thoughts into a coherent story is becoming a lost and undervalued skill. The ability to Google a topic and get an instant answer, albeit without context, makes everyone an instant expert. Too often, we knit disparate facts into a crazy quilt of knowledge that doesn’t reflect a mental model designed to make us efficient.

    Currently, I’m evaluating Drupal. Slogging through myriad pages of engineer written, collaborative documentation is frustrating and disheartening. There’s seldom any context. Task are detailed, but without the larger vision of how to use the product well. Sadly, I believe that this is the future.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Anne

      Thanks for your comment. You have rightly said that people write blog posts and on social media and feel that they can write. Spinning a few words around from Google search does not make us a writer. However, my point was more for experienced technical writers who are developing manuals in RoboHelp, Flare, DITA and other platforms for many years and yet they overlook the basics.

      As regards DRUPAL, most of the community pages are written or managed by programmers or Drupal experts and not really technical writers, and they are doing it selflessly without getting paid for this. So I am not really particular for quality of documentation at Drupal community.

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  5. Rahul Prabhakar

    There is a bigger problem at hand. I do not know of any university in India that teaches technical communication the way it should be taught – either full-time or part-time. There are some private colleges and institutes but their credibility can be easily questioned. Also, the expectations more or less remain the same – even though what you keep hearing is new, jazzy buzzwords like DITA. The two questions every writer should ask himself before taking up the position of a writer – 1. Do I have the necessary education/experience/skills for meeting the job expectations? Sometimes the biggest expectation is “Being less wordy” or “Less is More”. 2. Do I have the motivation to learn the necessary technical skills? Would I be able to demonstrate the same, if required. It’s tough being a writer …

    1. Vinish Garg

      Rahul, yes, the absence of properly structured education program for technical communication can address the issue for beginners or for fresh graduates. The questions that you raised are valid for *beginners*. My concern was more for the current generation, the experienced lot who are using RoboHelp, Flare or DITA for few years.

      It is merely *overlooking* and nothing else, and which is bad. And it is not being tough being a writer. It is tough being a true-to-self professional whether one is a technical writer, chef, architect, sportsperson, painter, lawyer, or whatever. It is about basics.

      1. Rahul Prabhakar

        My comments were pretty much applicable to the experienced lot. There are many experienced writers who fare pretty badly when it comes to being real “techies”. Also, demonstrating the technical know-how and making oneself more visible requires an effort that most writers are not willing to make.

        1. Anne Sandstrom

          Ah, but for those few of us who are willing and able to navigate that tightrope strung squarely between technical ability and writing, the future looks bright. :-)

  6. Abby M.

    As a recent technical communication graduate still looking for work, I am always tweaking my resumes more often than I tweak my resume, but from this post, it seems like not many people tweak their resumes as they should.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Abby, yes a resume is your first important interface to the external world and it should reflect *yourself*.

      Many managers or supervisors specifically in tech comm get a good measure of the candidate by merely looking at the resume. Wish you good luck for your first assignment!

  7. Rhonda

    Nicely written, Vinish. I’m another who is appalled at the quality of some tech writer resumes. For some examples, see these blog posts of mine:

    * http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/job-application-pet-peeves/
    * http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/ive-been-told-im-too-harsh/
    * http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/10/24/technical-writer-resumes/

    When the candidate says they have intermediate to advanced skills, then I want to see evidence of that in their resume.

    –Rhonda

    1. Anne Sandstrom

      Rhonda,
      This is one of my pet peeves as well. Occasionally I’ll rant about nobody really knowing how to use Word, but it falls on deaf ears. Then again, I’d bypass any company that uses Word to produce their documentation. It’s perfectly fine for resumes and the like, but not geared toward larg scale content publishing.

  8. Marcia Riefer Johnston

    Vinish, I’m giving you a standing ovation right here in my cozy home office. Can you hear me cheering and whistling?

    I’ve been a tech writer for 25 years. For part of that time, I managed a group of tech writers. I’ve also taught tech writing in Cornell’s Engineering School. I love this profession, and I love writing in general. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment: it’s time to put the “writing” back in tech writing.

    Because I share your feeling so strongly–and because I believe that the difficult, satisfying skill of writing well can and should be passed on–I’ve put my passion for words into words in a new book. It’s called “Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (and Everything You Build from Them).” It puts a new spin on age-old basics. I hope that this book will inspire some of today’s writers and writing teachers to rekindle a passion for the core skills that our modern, oh-so-sexy communication tools and technologies depend on.

    For more on my book, please see http://HowToWriteEverything.com.

    Thanks again, Vinish, for this thoughtful and timely rallying cry.

    Marcia

    P.S. I like your blog subtitle: “The Joy of Being a Technical Writer.” What could be more joyful than getting paid to write?

    1. Vinish Garg

      Marcia

      You are very kind to say that, yes I could hear the whistles :). I liked your statement when you say that it is time to get *writing* back into *tech writing*.

      I had a look at the website for your book, the concept looks promising and interesting! I will keep a tab on this.

      Thanks again.

  9. Just Plain Karen

    Vinish, thank you for this post. I’ve noticed this trend myself in technical writing. Everyone’s focused on tools or “content strategy.” Ironically, I think we can blame ourselves–specifically, our professional organization, the STC. Sometime ago the STC took a hard left into technology. Every TechComm newsletter I get as a member lumbers along with news about tools. Writing, apparently, is not something tech writers should be concerned about anymore.

    To help address this, I started the blog write2help.com to teach plain language in technical writing. I’m encouraged to read your post and the comments because I see that I’m not a lone voice crying in the desert on this issue.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Thanks Karen, for bringing up STC role in the discussion.

      I understand that global organizations such as STC and local groups and associations who provide training programs should focus on holistic approach to the technical documentation, and not merely DITA an content strategy. In addition, the internal processes and work culture of an organization can also help inculcate learn these core writing skills.

      PS: The URL of your linked website is incorrect, may be Tom can update it.

  10. Marie-Louise Flacke

    Interesting discussion about evaluating technical communicators’ skills.

    Strange nobody asked about the quality of the documentation being produced: nobody included _the end-user_ perception of good documentation in the thread. IMHO probably more important than the “spirit of documentation”…

    1. Vinish Garg

      Marie

      As far as I see, nobody has questioned the importance of quality of technical documentation. The discussion is about the importance of core/basic skills.

      The documentation quality has got better with the use of advanced tools and focus on higher usability standards, and we all are enjoying our journey with buzz words like scrum, DITA, indexing. However, my concern was that we should not bypass the basics.

      As evident in the comments by many readers in this discussion and in many direct emails that I have received, the community agrees that poor resume and unprofessional emails are a matter of concern. Many managers have agreed that they will think TWICE before hiring a candidate with poor resume and poor email writing skills, even if the candidate profile reflects excellent documentation skills. I am in that court. Do you not find it important enough? If not, I will be happy to know your perspective and preferences, in more detail.

      1. Marie-Louise Flacke

        The main point for candidates is: are they able to provide what the end-user needs? Word, Adobe, Flare, SGML, etc. is not relevant to the end-user (who just needs a small piece of information, at the right time and in a very accessible form. That’s ALL!). Technical information is NOT about WRITING, it is about providing information and responding to a specific (end-user) need, in any format (including video and Twitter).

        Excluding DITA is probably the biggest mistake colleagues are doing right now

        1. Anne Sandstrom

          Marie,
          I agree that conveying concise, timely, accurate information is the goal of a technical communicator. And the medium is not the message. However, I do note that you dismiss tools as not relevant, but go on to say that excluding DITA is the biggest mistake colleagues are guilty of. Hmm, that sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it?

          As for writing being relevant – the ability to organize and present information in a coherent manner is still important. I point (again) to my recent foray into Drupal. On page after page, I was presented with facts. I followed tutorials. I installed modules. I created a web site. And yet, all of the writing lacked the coherence and context a professional writer can bring. I had to ask again and again “Why am I doing this step?” and “What does this mean.” In addition, I found that uneven and inconsistent assumptions were made about the audience. In some cases, great pains were taken to explain what button to click in the somewhat obvious UI, while assuming in depth knowledge of a tool or concept that was never explained.

          Is conveying technical information about writing? You bet it is.

          1. Marie-Louise Flacke

            You say: “you dismiss tools as not relevant, but go on to say that excluding DITA is the biggest mistake colleagues are guilty of. Hmm, that sounds a bit contradictory, doesn’t it?”… Well, in your part of the world, DITA is a TOOL?… Well, as far as I remember, DITA is an open-source (OASIS) STANDARD that was developed by IBM documentation teams (check for people like Michael Priesley, Michelle Carey and Kristen Eberlein, for example). You can use any tool you want, provided they are really DITA compliant!

    1. Vinish Garg

      Marie: For your comments as *Should we recruit technical writers based on their resume only?*, I guess nobody has made a point that a good resume is *sufficient* for managers to decide whether a candidate is worth considering. The point is that a good resume is *also* an important factor.

      Just as a few poorly written procedures in a candidate’s profile (or in the recruitment test) reflect one’s poor documentation skills and helps us discard this candidate, a poor resume is a reflection of that candidate’s (a) attention to detail in his/her most important document (b) the overall professional attitude of that individual (c) (dis)respect for the profession.

      If such a candidate cannot spend 30 minutes to review and polish his most important document (the resume), and cannot write a professionally accurate email, I cannot trust his or her technical documentation skills for attention to detail and process adherence. So, core technical writing skills are as important as technical skills.

    2. Anne Sandstrom

      Marie-Louise,
      I do consider standards to be a tool just as much as an application. Standards are, after all, something we use to complete our work. But quibbling about semantics doesn’t help this discussion. And I’m a big proponent of using tools rather than having the tool use us.

      Thank you for sharing the link to the BMW video. In my role as a writer, I create many types of media, ranging from the traditional manuals (which is my least favorite thing to do), to wiki pages, to video tutorials (my favorite). In creating all of these, I bring the same skill set of being able to organize, prioritize, articulate, and convey technical information in the appropriate format. To me, that’s all writing. Creating videos adds the visual component, of course, but the creative process requires many of the same basic skills.

      Too often, I find tech writers downplay the expertise required to be a really good writer. Sadly, there are also still too many who don’t continually hone their technical expertise. Unlike some, I still like the title “technical writer” because it conveys the juxtaposition and balance of two disparate disciplines.

      Being a technical writer is a balancing act. There’s always a level of discomfort, as we have one foot on the tech side and the other on the communcation side. It’s not an easy profession.

  11. Megs

    Can we call ‘two to six years of experience’ as good enough experience? Couple that with Documentation Managers, some of whom became managers with a mere two or three years of experience, or because they wanted to be a manager or are a part of the coterie. I was shocked to work with a Manager who does not know the release date of the project and asked me to provide it to him, and this repeats in most of the projects. Requirements management, forget it? They won’t/don’t even know if the documentation you deliver meets all the project requirements. Then there was this other Manager who called a status tracking sheet as a project schedule! What can you learn from such management? Good writing skills?

    Most of the so called veterans in the industry in India cannot be called veterans in the true sense. For example, how many of them have more than 20 years experience? Someone with 5 years experience is dubbed a veteran too. I remember some of my ex-colleagues who called themselves seniors in the industry simply because they joined the organization before me. I was shocked to find out later that they held Junior Writer titles.

    Can the writers with less experience (two to six years) expect grooming or direction from such seniors? Perhaps, not. How many out there even know they need to groom their team members? They are only too focused on their coterie, bringing with them a culture that is destructive to the organizational culture. What do you expect from these experienced (two to six years) writers? A great resume?

    I have worked as a Technical Writer for long now, and all I see in this industry is unethical behavior, unfairness, group-ism, and directionless teams (or should I call it groups?). There is barely any scope for learning within the team (or group). I have begun to loathe this profession.

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  13. Jessica Behles

    As a recent grad of a technical communication program, I have been actively seeking a job in the field. I have been told repeatedly that my writing is great by professors, professionals, and even prospective employers. In fact, interviewers have given me glowing praise for my portfolio and writing samples. Further, my resume has been reviewed and critiqued by multiple professionals who have helped me revise it into a strong, mistake-free document, and my correspondence is all written with the same professionalism and attention to detail I would give to any project.

    Yet never have I heard anything even resembling, “Well, you lack experience with tool x and specific skill y, but your writing is so good that we are going to hire you and train you to use the tools and skills you’ll need on the job.”

    On the contrary, over and over, I hear, “Well your writing skills are solid, and your portfolio is impressive, but we want somebody with more experience in tool x and/or skill y.” I’ve also heard, “We have decided to move forward with a candidate with more experience; however, I’m sure with your writing skills, you will find a position soon.”

    If you encounter mainly technical writers with 2+ years’ experience who lack core writing skills, it’s because the people with strong writing skills are repeatedly being overlooked in favor of those with stronger tools experience but weaker writing ability. I say this based not only on my own experience looking for an entry level tech writing position, but also on that of my former classmates who are facing the same problem.

    This may be indicative of a shift in the industry’s priorities–indeed, some comments above mentioned that writing is taking a long second place to content strategy or tools strategy.

    Please don’t dismiss an entire generation of writers because a few lack core writing skills. This is apparently a side effect of an industry that gives priority to tool expertise. Skilled young writers are out here, and we really want to work for you and with you–we’re simply not the ones being hired right now.

    1. Vinish Garg

      Jessica

      Thank you for your comment.
      While hiring a fresh graduate, I will always prefer *good in writing skills* than *good in tools*. For me, it is easier to train on tools than to train on subject-verb agreement and sentence structure.

      And there are managers who are always on lookout for such candidates.

      I see that some of the comments are headed to the direction of *technical skills vs writing skills*. The crux of post was that many professionals are growing and evolving as technical writers ONLY in technology/best-practices/UX, by bypassing the core writing skills, the basics.

      If the preference to hire candidates has shifted to look for candidates with technical skills, I am sure this will pass away. The TC community is strong enough to realize it and will set its priorities right, sooner or later.

    2. Anne Sandstrom

      Jessica:
      Yours is the most articulate post to this blog thread. (I don’t say this to disrespect others, mind you.) I do hope you find a great position as a tech writer. Your writing is stellar!

  14. Jeffrey Mehr

    I am posting this on behalf of Jeffery who sent me this comment via direct email.
    - Vinish

    ———————–

    Dear Mr. Garg

    I enjoyed your blog post on “I’d Rather Be Writing,” to which I subscribe. I have been writing in one way or another since 1968 (I was 11, co-editing a newsletter), and I have been in the technical writing field–both doing it and eventually managing people and processes–for the past 25 years. I heartily agree with your thesis!

    The tools of the trade have developed considerably over time, and many of the capabilities. Certainly they require attention. But the fundamental skills of writing remain–independent of the tools–and are the basic challenge requiring mastery: the sine qua non. Writing means organizing information to make it most accessible to the readers, and to help them succeed in meeting their goals. There are both rhetorical and mechanical skills involved in this, more than that for which grammar and spelling checkers can compensate.

    BTW I gather you are a member of STC India? I am in the Rochester NY chapter. Also I read up a bit about your city (looks lovely) and checked out your samples.

    Keep up the good work.

    Jeffrey Mehr
    Technical Knowledge Communicator
    Publications Project Manager
    Technical-Industrial Copywriter

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    1. Vinish Garg

      John, they do in the master chef series.
      This is probably one of the fewest opportunities where they get to lay the table and they cannot afford to place knife incorrectly!

  16. Guy

    To Vinish and Jessica Behles:

    There does indeed seem to be more emphasis on non-writing aspects of “technical writing” by many companies today. I have 20 years of experience in technical writing and editing, but can’t find a job because I don’t use RoboHelp or other online help tools; I don’t read/write Java/C++/HTML or any other programming/Web language; and I’m not familiar with any CMS software.

    Does that make me stupid? I don’t think so. My last job that involved online help was many years ago, and the tool we used was HDK, which seems to have died somewhere along the line. If I could write code — and enjoyed doing it — then I’d be a programmer and make more money than the average tech writer. I don’t know any CMS software because I never worked anywhere that used it. I am always willing to learn whatever tool is needed to do the job, but the tools aren’t what make me a technical writer. That comes from my skills at analyzing the task, writing the material, and editing that material (or that of my colleagues).

    You can train most people to use a tool. You can’t train everyone to write clearly. Case in point: I had a job where my major task was to rewrite every bit of training material put out by one of the team members. He always covered the topic in exhaustive detail, but he just couldn’t get the narrative into any useful order, despite years of doing this job. (Fortunately for him, his output was equal to six other writers combined, so the company felt it was worth keeping him and having me function as his rewrite editor.)

    Many people can use RoboHelp or other tools. Not all of them can actually turn out content that is helpful. If someone is missing out on the basics of technical writing, how can they possibly put out truly excellent documentation?

    As long as hiring managers put more emphasis on tools, strong writers/editors, regardless of their age, will find it hard to get noticed and selected.

    1. Anne Sandstrom

      Guy,
      I’m quite curious about the types of positions you’ve held recently, and specifically what tools and technologies you have used and written about. I am the first to emphasize the importance of writing skills, however, being a technical writer does seem to be a delicate balancing act between communicating effectively and understanding the technology. Like it or not, there are certain core technical competencies that are expected of someone with years of experience. Perhaps there’s a way to correlate your recent experience with some of these technologies?

      Wishing you the best,
      Anne

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  18. Jyoti

    Hi Vinit,

    That is a very interesting post.Good writing skills are seriously lacking in writers today. People are giving more importance to tools, but not to basics. Even I have come across many poorly written resumes, which leave me wondering how can this person be a good writer?

    I think some writers are just not bothered about emails, resumes. For them core technical writing is more important. Everyone has to make an effort to hone up his/her writing skills. But somwhow that commitment is lacking somewhere.
    But this was a nice article.
    Hope to see some more.

    JST

  19. Prasenjit Sarkar

    Enjoyed reading the discussion thread.

    Marie, I do understand that knowledge of standards is important, but should we not be putting more emphasis on:

    a. “soul” of the content
    b. building a “coherent story”

    To cite an example – I was using a nice application and wanted to refer to their help to understand a certain workflow.

    The webhelp page I was directed to, says:

    1. Click on Undo to undo …….

    2. Click on Redo to redo ……

    3. Click on Copy to copy …..

    However, the page, if you look at it from the perspective of the tool that generated it and the standards that the tool uses, has nothing wrong in it.

    But the content was of little help to me. Why did the writer have to reiterate these things? Do I need to be a genius to understand that Undo means undo?

    I think what Vinit was implying is that somewhere we are losing track of the basics of being able to organise thoughts and articulate them well. These are absolutely essential to be a good writer, aren’t they?

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