Monthly Archives: May 2012

Increase re-usability of your FrameMaker document using “Variables”.

This past week, I was explaining to my class, what variable are and how these could be used throughout your document, to make it more reusable. They were finding it challenging to understand the concept of variables, unlike the other topics of FrameMaker. Only when I explained the concept to them thrice with suitable examples- did they understand. So when thinking about a topic to blog this morning I decided to write on variables. If any one of you have are facing difficulties understanding the concept of variable read through this blog to better understand Variables.

Have you come across a scenario where there are hundreds of documents which contain your company address and you are asked to go through all these documents, to change the address, since your company shifted to another location? Imagine the amount of work you would have to complete- you will have to browse through the entire document, find the company address then change it over to the current address. Now that’s a whole lot of work, for you or your team. This is where variables come to your rescue.

Variable is a command which lets you add pieces of information to your document whose values can be changed to keep your document updated. In the scenario mentioned above instead of using text if the documentation team had used variables for address then the value of address can be changed throughout the document just by redefining the address variable. Now isn’t that simple

Now let us learn to create a variable, insert it into your document, and then redefine the variable to reflect the updated values.

Create variables.

  1. Click Special on the menu bar.
  2. Select Variable. Variable dialog box appears.
  3. Select create Variable to create a new variable.  Edit User Variable dialog box appears.
  4. Enter variable name, under Name text box.
  5. Enter definition of variable, under Variable text box.
  6. Click Done.

Repeat same steps to create a number of Variables.

Insert variables.

  1. Place your cursor where you want to insert a variable.
  2. Click Special on the menu bar.
  3. Select Variable. Variable dialog box appears.
  4. From the list of Variables select the variable, you want to insert.
  5. Click Insert.

Repeat same steps, to insert variable at different positions in the document.

Change variables definition.

  1. Click Special on the menu bar.
  2. Select Variable. Variable dialog box appears.
  3. From the list of Variables select the variable, you want to edit and click Edit Definition.
  4. Edit definition of variable, under Variable text box.
  5. Click Done.

All instances of that particular variable will change throughout your document.

I hope you found this blog useful, in creating documents that are easily reusable.

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Starting your career as a Technical Writer

Hello again!! Like promised in my last post, here I am blogging again about, how to start of your career as a Technical Writer.

For you to start a career in Technical writing it is necessary that you have a grasp over Queen’s language, understand the fundamentals of technical writing and have knowledge of certain computer software’s like MS Word or Adobe FrameMaker that Technical writers commonly use. For starters this is good enough. And by the way, it is somewhat mandatory for you to have a degree in any discipline since this is the basic prerequisite that most of the companies look for before hiring.

So from the above paragraph you can infer that for you to be a Technical Writer-you should be a graduate with good communication skills, who understands the concept of technical writing with knowledge of software’s that technical writers use.

You being a graduate and having good communication skill is something that you either have or you don’t. So I will not be getting into the details of these aspects. I will however discuss where you can gain knowledge of technical writing fundamentals as well as develop proficiency in software like MS Word or Adobe FrameMaker. There are various ways by which you can achieve this. Below are some among them.

Join a university or college that offers technical writing course or a degree program

There are various colleges in the United States that offer these courses but unfortunately this is not the case in various other countries. Of late many countries have started offering technical writing programs but still it is in the rudimentary stages. In India only Symbiosis institute offers PG Diploma course in technical writing however this is a distance education program. Here is the link if you are interested to know more http://www.scdl.net/scdl/ProgramPGDTW.aspx.Since the number of schools offering technical writing programs are changing frequently, providing a list of them here would soon cause this page to become out of date .To find out about the technical writing schools in your locality  use Google.

Join a private institute that offers technical writing course

If technical writing program is not available in any schools or universities, you would have to join a private institute that offers this program. Again I would suggest you to Google for institutes that provide this program in your area. If, you are in Bangalore than I recommend TechnoPoint which is located in Indiranagar. Here is their website http://www.technopointindia.net/

Learn from Technical writers who take classes in their spare time

There are various Technical writers available who actually teach the art of technical writing during weekend. Use Google or popular ad posting websites to know if there are technical writers who offer training services in your area.

You can always learn from vast resources available on the internet

If none of the above options are viable then you can turn to the World Wide Web to be your trainer. There various websites, blogs that apart from sharing knowledge also helps you keep track all the current news in the technical writing world. I advise that you join their mailing list to keep yourself updated. Here are some of the useful websites out there that focuses on technical writing.

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The new age career option: Technical Writing

Technical writing is an interesting and modern career option. The growing IT, manufacturing service sectors have created a huge demand for technical writers. Here is all that you want to know to jump-start your career in technical writing.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing involves putting technical information into easily understandable language. Technical writers work primarily in information-technology-related industries, coordinating the development and dissemination of technical content for a variety of users.

Why Technical Writing as a career?

  • You get the opportunity to work on different technologies, products, tools and domains.
  • You can choose and work on your areas of interest such as editing, graphics, training, product analysis etc. thereby it reduces the scope for monotony.
  • It is a day shift job, which pays well and there is less competition with assured growth.
  • Opportunities to travel abroad on projects.

What are the qualifications required to become a technical writer?

Any graduate can be a Technical Writer. The advantage about this field is that it is not restricted for people with a particular qualification.

What are the essential skills set that a technical writer should posses?

Basic computer skills, ability to write clearly, talent in showing ideas graphically, patience in problem-solving/troubleshooting and the ability to interact with SMEs is some of the skills required.

What are the job opportunities in this field?

Technical writing is a vast field. You could work for the different sector like the IT, Education, Medical, Finance, Governments at all levels, Manufacturing, Publishing, Telecommunications, Law, Tourism also Technical Writers are in great demand in areas such as Bioinformatics, Clinical Research, Patent Writing, Research and other writing jobs. In short, technical writers work in every industry and in every field. You would be hard pressed to find a single industry where technical writers are not employed.

What is the technical writers’ career path?

You can get started as an Associate Technical Writer and with just about four to five years of experience, you can become a Team Leader. With over 7 years of experience, you can be either a Documentation Manager or a Product Analyst. The pace at which you grow in this field is much faster as the competition is less. If the writer has a technical background, then he/she can opt to be a Subject Matter Expert.

Remuneration

The starting salary for a Technical Writing ranges anywhere between 2.75 lakh to 3.2 lakh per annum can go beyond 12 lakh per annum with relevant experience.

How can I be a technical writer?

I will be bogging about this in detail in my consequent posts.

As Tech writer you create contents which assist the end users in achieving a particular task.

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