What would a Technical Author ask from Santa?

Santa Claus - WikipediaSaint Nicholas’s day has passed, which means Christmas is getting close. So what would a Technical Author ask from Santa Claus?

One thing we could request is the ability to embed one Google document inside another. That would mean that Google Docs could support some basic content reuse.

Another would be to request Madcap Flare’s DITA support to be extended, so that you could create edit native DITA files.

We could ask him to provide a standard technology format for providing Help for mobile applications.

We could also ask him for a way to use Siri and Google Voice Search to interact with our user guides.

So what would you ask Santa to bring? Please share your thoughts and ideas below.

The business benefits of DITA – in graphic novel form

DITA graphic novel - page 4We’ve put together a free illustrated guide that explains the business benefits of the DITA authoring and publishing standard.

It’s suitable for Technical Authors and non-Technical Authors.

You’ll find this guide is in graphic novel (or comic) format, comprising 18 colour pages.

You can download the guide from the Cherryleaf website in EPUB, PDF and MOBI formats.


Shortly, we’ll be adding new details on DITA training courses, to the Cherryleaf website: one for beginners and one for advanced users. This will include dates in the autumn for classroom courses. These courses will be held in Westminster.

Contact us if you’re interested in online DITA courses. We may have some details to reveal shortly.

See: Free illustrated guide to the business benefits of DITA

See also: DITA training courses in London and online


How many Technical Authors are in the UK? Here’s the answer

woman reading bookIt’s quite difficult to know how many Technical Authors there are in the United Kingdom. The profession doesn’t have its own Standard Occupational Classification code, so there are no official statistics.

We can estimate the number of Technical Authors in the IT sector. One way to do this is by looking at the total number people working in the IT and the percentage of permanent IT job vacancies that are advertising for a Technical Author.
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Getting started as a freelance Technical Author

One of the most common questions we get asked is for advice on becoming a freelance Technical Author. To help address that question in depth, we written an ebook, which you can purchase via the Cherryleaf website.

This guide answers the key questions people have when considering a freelance career as a Technical Author. It is focused on starting out as a freelance Technical Author in the United Kingdom, and in the IT and medical equipment sectors. However, many of the sections will also be applicable to other countries and other industry sectors.

See Getting started as a freelance Technical Writer ebook

Slides from the Adobe Day Europe discussion on “Assisting the millennial user – challenges and opportunities in the decade ahead”

Here are the slides the panel put together for the Adobe Day Europe discussion on “Assisting the millennial user – challenges and opportunities in the decade ahead”. We didn’t get time to cover all of the topics in the time we had available (unfortunately some of the previous speakers overran their time slots).
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Where are all the technical writers?

Editor’s Note: Introducing a new guest blogger to Cherryleaf’s blog: Dr. Tony Self of HyperWrite.

Where are all the technical writers?

Lionel Richie Hello posterI have often wondered why there are so few technical writers in the world.

In my country, Australia, the Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates there are over 2,000 technical writers within the total workforce of 11.65 million people. The Australian Government groups technical writers into a category called ”Journalists and Other Writers”. That category of writer has shown little growth over the last decade, and in 2011 represented just 21,400 people.

In the US, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that there were about 50,000 American technical writers in 2010.

We are living in the information age, yet the numbers of technical writers in countries like Australia and the US are not skyrocketing. Why not? Continue reading

Should Technical Authors be allowed to work from home?

With the recent media attention on Yahoo’s announcement that it is banning its staff from “remote” working, we thought it might be useful to look at the case for and against Technical Authors working from home.

The case for allowing remote working

  1. They can do their jobs more productively without interruption from others. When Technical Authors are writing (which is approximately 50% of their time), it can often help their concentration if they can work in a distraction-free environment.
  2. There’s less need for office space and related costs (telephones, desktop computers etc).
  3. Staff may be less stressed. Brad Harrington, executive director of the Boston College Center for Work & Family, claims people who work from home tend to have less stress and are more productive, partly because they don’t invest time and money in commuting, and they can have a better work/life balance.
  4. You may get more flexibility over staff availability. Without the need to commute, staff may be more willing to work out-of-hours.
  5. You have a wider pool of people interested in your vacancies if you can offer some flexibility in working hours and location.

The case against allowing remote working

  1. You’re more likely to build up a company culture if everyone is working in the same space together. This is particularly important for start-up businesses.
  2. It’s easier to network with others. These contacts could boost your careers in the future.
  3. It’s easier to monitor the work staff are carrying out.
  4. It’s can be faster to make decisions (as you can carry out impromptu meetings).
  5. According to Marissa Meyer, face-to-face meetings boost the quality of decisions and business ideas:

“Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.”

Our opinion

Being a Technical Author is one of those roles where remote working can work well. However, it’s best to be able to have both options available – to have people who can come into the office within a short space of time, should there be an emergency. There’s a great deal of value in meeting people face-to-face, and to be part of a company culture (especially within startups), but it can help enormously if you can write in a distraction-free environment.

If you do work from home, you need to have a productive working environment, and be able to be self-disciplined.

What’s your opinion?

You can use the comment box below.

See also: Cherryleaf recruiting services