TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
>Steve Owens asks:
> "Off on a tangent, your listing of reference/user/tutorial/quick-reference
> inspires me to wonder:
> What are the commonly accepted definitions of these terms?
> And what other terms are there like this?"
> The competition guidelines provide a brief (and I DO mean brief)
> description, but they leave a lot out. They also allow some manual
> structures to fall through the cracks. I'd love to see them "buffed"
> I forget now who suggested it, but I like the idea of dividing by
> audience, instead. And maybe by subject within that (since you can
> have an audience
I think you missed the point of my "tangent" comment. I'm not talking
about STC competitions at all, I'm asking what are the commonly accepted
definitions of reference/user guide/tutorial/quick-reference/workbook/etc.
I had to discuss a document with somebody the other day, and I said it
wasn't very "tutorial" oriented, which she flatly disagreed with. It
turned out we were using the term for different things.
I was talking about "tutorial" in the sense that it teaches you things
at a more conceptual level ("when" you do something, i.e. the process
for deciding when a task must be done, and to what ends, and "why" you
do something, i.e. giving you the reasoning behind the
She was talking about "tutorial" in the sense of a step-by-step
task-oriented text ("how" you do something, i.e. "Here is how you
reformat a disk. Step 1, put the disk in the computer. Step 2....")
She insisted that this is the proper use of the term "tutorial."
I don't necessarily disagree with her, but it does lead me to wonder
if there are any commonly accepted (uhm, "standard") meanings for
these terms (and any other terms that should be in a technical