When I started as a technical writer for Western Electric in 1978 the requirement was that you had to have a technical degree to be hired. My degree was in Electrical Engineering Technology. This requirement did not change for quite a few years. We received the product engineering info from the Engineers at Bell Labs. We took this info and created Task Oriented Practices, Users Manuals, Installation Manuals etc. The Engineers were our Subject Matter Experts and they review was we wrote. I am not sure if they would have been happy taking their time away from development to actually write these documents.
Ann Z -----Original Message----- From: framers-boun...@lists.frameusers.com [mailto:framers-boun...@lists.frameusers.com] On Behalf Of Helen Borrie Sent: Tuesday, October 08, 2013 7:43 PM To: Frame Users Subject: Re: Engineers as authors At 03:26 a.m. 8/10/2013, Stephen O'Brien wrote: >Hi, > >A few mechanical engineers have been asked, as part of their varied workload, to author certain documents in English (How To, Webinars, software essentials) in the near future. > >Working with authors who are not formally trained is a new experience for me. I am wondering how to best define their tasks and the tasks of my technical writing group who will work together to ensure quality documents. For example: > >. I could provide the engineers with templates in FrameMaker and an introduction to the basics of technical writing and English grammar and bring them to write good documents over time. Some formal training in technical writing could be offered. The technical writers would then review the final documents (container and content) to ensure the overall quality of the documents. > >. Or, maybe the role of the engineers should be to write rough content within guidelines (get the ideas and workflows on paper), and my team of technical writers could be responsible for formatting the content and expressing their ideas/workflows correctly in English. This would take much less time for the engineer (less of a learning curve). > >Do you have some experience in this matter? Any hints for what may work best? Is your task to train them to be tech writers or to be good informants? Are you tasked with producing the documentation or just with editing it? The differences are crucial. If they had meant to be tech writers, they wouldn't (usually) have ended up as mechanical engineers. And that's discounting the built-in problem you possibly have there in Quebec, where numbers of the engineers may not have learnt their composition skills in English.... Remember that old adage: "Don't keep a dog and bark yourself." What sense would it make to hire a team of tech writers and then make the engineers produce near-final content? My best advice is to CONSULT THE ENGINEERS. Between you, you have to establish the reader audience and what needs to be got - from whom and by whom - in order to produce each of the docs. That needs Q & A on both sides, both initial and ongoing The "how" will follow on once the basics are clear. The engineers will have their own distinct preferences as to the tool they would use to deliver content to you. In my experience, engineers often don't "get" word processors and just use them like a text editor. Making them use Word templates is unreasonable for them. Many prefer to use simple text editors or email. You can put them in the way of using a freely available text editor like MS Notepad or free Notepad++ and offer elementary training to those who want it. Give them plain-text templates with headings and blocks that cover the information you've all agreed you need. They can use those to build topic outlines and, subsequently, to fill up with content. On your side, you can build your formal document outlines in Frame and "stuff them as you go". The engineers are likely to be interested in the outlines of sections/chapters/volumes for which they, individually, will provide content. Those may or may not be congruent with the organisation of the published docs, so making and maintaining road maps may be a task for you and your team. A lot depends on the intended audience, change management and other stuff they might not be involved in directly. One place where you will need more source tool consistency is in figures, especially if the company uses one main CAD tool. Your tech writers will need a tool for converting CAD output to Frame-friendly images if the software itself doesn't provide one. Helen _______________________________________________ You are currently subscribed to framers as azdunc...@triad.rr.com. Send list messages to email@example.com. To unsubscribe send a blank email to framers-unsubscr...@lists.frameusers.com or visit http://lists.frameusers.com/mailman/options/framers/azdunczyk%40triad.rr.com Send administrative questions to listad...@frameusers.com. Visit http://www.frameusers.com/ for more resources and info. _______________________________________________ You are currently subscribed to framers as arch...@mail-archive.com. Send list messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. To unsubscribe send a blank email to framers-unsubscr...@lists.frameusers.com or visit http://lists.frameusers.com/mailman/options/framers/archive%40mail-archive.com Send administrative questions to listad...@frameusers.com. Visit http://www.frameusers.com/ for more resources and info.