The technical communicator’s credo

Leading Technical Communication

What does it mean to be a professional technical communicator in 2016? What will it mean to be a professional technical communicator over the next decade?

Hand holding a penAfter pondering those questions I came up with this credo:

I serve my audience. I strive to know as much about them as I can, and I supply them with the information they need, in a way that’s appropriate for their context. (Or, as Sarah Maddox put it: in the language that they understand, anywhere, anytime, anyhow.)

I serve my employer. While always behaving ethically I work to advance the interests of their business and represent them to their customers and to the public as they see fit.

I represent my profession. In my dealings with subject-matter experts and other colleagues, I respect both my work and theirs. I never give them reason to question the value of the work I produce.

I constantly…

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What IS Technical Communication, Anyway?

Heroic Technical Writing: Advice and Insights on the Business of Technical Communication

In response to a comment from my friend David on my Monday post, I thought I’d take a little time to explain what I mean by technical writing (or, more broadly, technical communication). It might seem like a straightforward proposition, but I recall spending a week or two in my first grad school class debating this matter, so maybe it’s worth taking a moment to define the term.

Why “technical communication” is problematic

Here are some of the ways that people can get confused by what it means to be a “technical communicator”:

Are they people who write about technology? 

Using this definition, you would have to exclude science writers. Also, would cookbook editors qualify? What about magazine writers for animal breeders or farmers? Furniture assembly manual writers?

Are they people who use advanced technical tools to create their products?

Using this definition, the meeting minutes I capture in my handwritten journal…

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Usability In Technical Documentation


Information developers are professional users of all sorts of technical documentation, and our experiences inevitably range from genuine pleasure to absolute disappointment.

Our trained eye immediately picks out the obvious typos or inconsistencies. But how come that some texts, though technically and grammatically correct, just do not work the way they are intended to? With all the rules and guidelines, we often forget about the most important focus of technical documentation – the user. So, what is this usability factor that makes a document easy to understand and work with?

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