Stealth, Skill, and Proper Grammar

Technical Communication: More than Just Writing

by Todd Phillips, published 13 February 2015

When I first set foot on the path to becoming a technical writer, the job was really just about the writing. Oh sure, we also edited the content, but the point is that we were only delivering written content. Someone else had to worry about formatting and presenting that content in the publishing channels. I had a conversation with a business associate the other day about what I do. The list of tasks and skills left both of us rather impressed. I seldom stop to think about everything that goes in to the role of technical writer thse days. Perhaps it is time to throw the 'technical writer' moniker in favor of the more descriptive 'technical communicator' after all.

Kung Fu Editing

by Todd Phillips, published 18 November 2014

I firmly believe that anyone who writes has experienced the problem: you made an error, and then missed it when you reviewed your work. The error is then spotted immediately by the first person to read your work. If you're lucky, that person will be gentle. If the reviewer is your spouse, it may be less so. And if you're foolish enough to let a sibling or friend read your work, prepare for humiliation.

It's a common enough problem that you're probably nodding along in agreement as you read this, perhaps even having a flashback in which you want to inflict bodily harm upon someone who reviewed a piece and then laughed at your honest mistake. I learned early in my writing career that you have to let go of your ego when working in a team of writer and editors. And if the editor isn't on your side, there are other ways to pay them back which will be discussed in a future article, perhaps before April Fool's Day. But the honest truth is that most teams want to produce the best product they can, and as a writer you have to trust that your editor's intention is to help you produce your best work.

The Technical Writer Will refuse to be Passive

by Todd Phillips, published 12 November 2014

Tech writers often get hung up on the idea of completely eradicating the use of passive voice from our work. I've just been going through an awkward review cycle on a rather simple quick start document where the primary stakeholder kept asking for a minor change to wording on a key description. I immediately took issue with the opening of the statement, which went something like this:

The reseller will want to use the branded service to...