Technical authors, documents and getting lost

Via Twitter, someone responded to one of my messages with the statement, “maybe, if you need a manual, it’s a poor product”. I don’t think that’s the case, and my reply on Twitter was: “A map is to a city, what a manual is to an application.” Let me explain. Imagine you need to visit… Read more »

Manager’s guide to single sourcing: What’s the problem, why is there a need?

I thought it might be useful to look at a simple question: Why is there a need for single sourcing technical documentation? For people who aren’t technical authors, it’s often unclear why technical authors talk so much about “single sourcing”. Isn’t that just cutting and pasting? What’s the problem? In later posts we’ll look at the… Read more »

The user manual in advertising

A photo of a mid-1980s ledger application for the IBM PC. The ad copy stated: “For the introduction of the IBM PC, we designed the packages and software manual, creating, instead of the industry’s usual cheap plastic binders, hard-bound linen covers and slipcovers in pastel colors to stress cultural elegance and personal values.” Spotted in… Read more »

The user manual in TV advertising

I came across these classic TV adverts today, which feature the humble user manual. Would an advert like this work today?

Technical Documentation: How it really gets written

This reputedly originates from Damien Katz of The CouchDB Project: “Welcome to the world of technical documentation! The situation you are in is no different from any other technical author. The technical writing process: 1. Ask engineer how the damn thing works. 2. Deafing silence. 3. Crickets. 4. Tumbleweed. 5. Just start writing something. Anything…. Read more »