RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment

Subject: RE: Technical writing in a higher ed environment
From: "Lisa Wright" <liwright -at- earthlink -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 09:44:51 -0800

I disagree--I do not think this is good advice. Spending this much time and
energy on something that is relatively trivial is going to raise red flags
with the administration. College budgets are invariably tight and you do not
want to be viewed as wasting time and money. I *especially* would not
indicate that it is going to take extra time and money for you personally to
adapt to using a different style guide. First of all, it shouldn't take
noticeable time and money unless you have to retrofit documents. Second, do
not make this about you. If you are a professional writer, you should be
able to adapt fairly easily to a slightly different style. So what if AP and
Chicago disagree? They're both used in tech docs and all sorts of other

Fight the strategic war and keep your job. AP has in the past been a fairly
minimalist guide and it will have gaps--likely focused on writing about
computers and computer terminology. Only where it has gaps should you turn
to something else. Again, if you feel you need to ask permission to fill in
the gaps, then raise it once in a casual, professional, non-confrontational
and non-emotional manner. Then let it go.

Finally, has anyone really done usability studies of one style guide vs.
another? I sincerely hope not. It is definitely not something I'd quit my
job for. In my book that's akin to quitting because the institutional style
is Times instead of Palatino.


-----Original Message-----
From: bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
[mailto:bounce-techwr-l-53104 -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com] On Behalf Of k k
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 8:28 AM
Subject: Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment

If you have already tried this and met no success, go
ahead and follow his law while you rearm for round 2.
Poll the users or somehow try to get feedback from
them whether the documentation is good enough from
their perspective. Collect information from tech doc readability and
usability studies. If you can, build a business case and have figures that
show how following the AP guide in your production process is less
efficient. If you can, make darn sure you show it costs more - maybe point
out the cost of the time lost because of having to use a different style
guide (having to in effect retrain yourself, extra editing time, etc.). When
you have that ammunition all loaded up, go back and make another attempt to
convince him to change the rule.

If that second attempt fails, you can either salute
and say "Yes sir" and do it his way no matter how much
you dislike it, or you can start looking for another
job. The way I see it, at that point there really
wouldn't be any other honorable courses of action.


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Re: Technical writing in a higher ed environment: From: k k

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