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Real Projects for Entry-Level Writers Trying to Build Their Portfolios

by Tom Johnson on Jun 26, 2009
categories: beginners technical-writingweb-design

Beginning writers trying to break into the field of technical writing face a paradox: almost all jobs require experience, but they can't get experience without first having a job.

In the past, I've recommended that beginning writers create documentation for any open-source project they can find, such as WordPress, Audacity, or projects on However, our organization now has about ten open source projects that would provide an ideal opportunity for entry-level writers to gain real experience in technical writing. These projects are located at

The open source projects are designed to allow members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormons) to participate in some of the technical projects of the Church. However, you don't need to be Mormon to help out. In fact, not being Mormon may provide a more realistic technical writing experience, as you'll be working in a world of terms possibly unfamiliar to you.

In contrast to other open source projects, working on the open source projects at the LDS Tech Wiki will allow you to interact with designers, testers, developers, and project managers. You won't just be writing help documentation for a stagnant application coded long ago. Instead, you'll be able to create real documentation for a handful of active, interesting projects that you can showcase to employers.

What kind of projects are available? Here's a page where all the projects are listed. The projects include the following:

You can include any help materials you write for these applications in your portfolio. Trust me that a strong portfolio can trump years of experience as a technical writer. I landed my first job as a technical writer because I had a strong portfolio, which didn't even include any real technical writing projects. Imagine how persuasive your portfolio would be if you actually had several technical writing projects you could highlight and discuss.

If you're interested in getting involved, complete the requirements for participation. And then contact Tom Welch, the director in charge of these open source projects. (Alternatively, let me know and I'll point you in the right direction.)

If you're interested in learning more about the organization managing all of these open source projects, see, listen to audio at Mormon Radio, watch videos on the Mormon Channel on Youtube, or check out the resources at

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

If you're a technical writer and want to keep on top of the latest trends in the tech comm, be sure to subscribe to email updates below. You can also learn more about me or contact me. Finally, note that the opinions I express on my blog are my own points of view, not that of my employer.