Microsoft’s “No more robot speak” in action


Our post about how Microsoft is changing its writing style (Microsoft moves away from “robot speak” in its user documentation) generated a lot of interest, so I thought it might be useful to post some examples of it that we’ve spotted.

These examples are from Office 365 Premium Edition.

Continue reading

Adobe launches Tech Comm Survey 2014

We have been asked to forward this message regarding the launch of Adobe Tech Comm Survey 2014:

The purpose of the survey is to understand how you create, publish and distribute content; and how you measure the effectiveness of content. We want to understand which tools you use, how you use them and how they can be improved.

It does not matter if you use Adobe products or not. As long as you are a Tech Comm professional and want your voice to be heard, you can fill out the survey. Please spare 20 minutes of your precious time to fill out the survey and stand a chance to win one of the 20 exciting prizes!

Survey Link:

Here is your opportunity to share your opinions, influence the direction of Adobe Tech Comm products and win some cool prizes.

We’re changing IT systems this week, and emails might be delayed in getting to us

We’re changing some of our IT systems this week, including our email system. This involves some changes to DNS and TXT records that may take a while to propagate around the Internet.

If you send us an email and it seems like we’re taking an unusually long time to reply, please feel free to call us on 0207 100 4513. If we detect any serious problems that might take days to fix, we have a backup alternative gmail account we can ask you to use temporarily instead.

What’s happening with the ISTC’s marketing?

I’ve had some time in the last few days to initiate some the ideas mentioned in my post Marketing the technical communication profession. This relates to improving the marketing of the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators. Most of the work we do for clients is confidential, so it’s a pleasant change to be able to talk about a project as it’s progressing.

Continue reading

Marketing the technical communication profession

ISTC logoI’ve been asked to join the ISTC’s Council and take on the responsibility for marketing the organisation. The ISTC is is the largest UK body representing information development professionals (it’s the UK version of the STC or tekom), and this is a volunteer, unpaid, part time, role.

Happily, I’m building upon the work carried out by Rachel Potts (who was the previous ISTC Marketing lead) and other ISTC volunteers.

Increasing the awareness of the technical communication profession

In addition to encouraging people to join the ISTC, it’s important to increase awareness in the wider world of the profession. If the ISTC can encourage companies to use technical communicators, it’s likely there will be more technical communications who could potentially join the ISTC. This should also benefit Cherryleaf and others who provide technical writing services.

Below are some initial ideas I’ve had for how the ISTC can increase the awareness of the profession.

Continue reading

Video of Technical Communications UK 2014 conference

I’ve uploaded a video onto YouTube that I put together about the TCUK14 conference. As I’ve just taken over the role on the Institute for Scientific and Technical Communicators (ISTC) Council for marketing, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to enter the conference video competition that’s running at the moment. This is just for fun, and something that hopefully encourages other delegates to create a video.

“Bad information is Marketing’s fault problem. Good information is Tech Comms’ specialty. Let’s do the maths.”

inbound marketing and technical communicationsThe quotation in the title is from Roger Hart’s presentation at last week’s TCUK14 conference. Roger is a product marketing manager who spent a few years as a Technical Author. In his presentation, Collateral damage: do marketing and tech comms have to fight when users get informed?, he explained some of the most powerful marketing content today is high quality user information – especially the content that Technical Authors produce.

Continue reading

Microsoft moves away from “robot speak” in its user documentation

DSC00498One of the highlights from the Technical Communications UK 2014 conference was the keynote presentation from Microsoft’s Doug Kim. Doug is Senior Managing Editor for, and leads guidelines and best practices for Voice in Office. By Voice, he means the tone of voice and style of English used in the User Interface and user documentation.

Doug Kim at TCUK14

The change in voice is something we explore on our advanced technical writing techniques course, so I was interested to see how Microsoft was addressing this topic. The good news for us is that Microsoft’s approach is consistent with what we advocate on the course (however, we will need to update the course before the next one in December to include some of the topics Doug discussed).

Continue reading