Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Achieving Technical Writing Excellence

While searching for some parts to upgrade an old Mac G4 for my dendrologist friends, I came across the iFixit site. Although I didn't find the 3.5" IDE/ATA 120 Gb internal hard drive I need, I discovered a treasure trove of information for DIY troubleshooting and repair. The procedures are clear and well written gems of technical communication and the folks at iFixit are proud of it. The sidebar of the page I was looking at had a link to their latest blog post: Achieving Technical Writing Excellence.

My take-away from the blog post is that even in our brave new world of technical writing as type-driven topic-based content management, writers are achieving excellence using the oldest tech writing maxim in the book: writing for the reader. It was thrilling to read these words:
"You always have to be conscious of your audience, for they are the ones who will be gaining the most from your words. Write for them — not yourself."

Technical writing excellence is not about clever use of tools. It's about communicating the information that the user needs. It's about the user. It always will be.

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