Tag Archives: technical writing

Document Development Life Cycle

When I started blogging a month ago, I promised myself to at-least post 1 entry every week. Last week I was busy training and could not find enough time to post. So the first thing I did after finishing my classes today was to blog.

In this post I have covered Document development life cycle (DDLC). Hope you find this information useful.

Document development life cycle (DDLC) includes the various stages involved in structured document creation. It ranges from requirement analysis through maintenance of the completed document. The DDLC comprises of the following stages:

DDLC Illustrated

Project Start-up

Project start-up generally involves the creation of project plan. It includes understanding the project objectives and constraints in terms of time, quality, and cost. The scope of the project is clearly defined along with standards to be followed throughout the project. This phase also involves identifying key personnel responsible for providing, reviewing, and approving document content.

 Requirement Analysis

Requirement analysis for documentation includes Audience Analysis, tools that will be used in the project.  You try to understand the learning gap and come up with strategies required in achieving the project goal. You also decide the format and the delivery media for the document at this phase.

Outlining the Document

Outlining means creating an overall plan of the document, which is also known as the skeleton framework of the document. This framework comprises of preface or introduction, table of contents, chapter information/sequence, index, glossary etc. A technical writer only needs to explain all the elements, once the plan is ready.

Preparing Prototype

Preparing a prototype comprises of template consideration, developing a style guides, creating a sample section of the document.

A template depicts the physical appearance of the document. While designing the template, you need to consider all the specifications, styles, and standards required for the document. This includes page size, page margins, header/footer, heading styles, font type, font size, and figure/table representations etc.

A style guide is a set of standards to be followed to design and write documents. This guide contains information regarding the various styles defined for the document template. It consists of definitions of various styles that are to be used in the document.

Developing

Developing the document requires actual writing of the document, and integration of the various components (graphics, glossary, search items) of the document. This phase also involves document reviews and revisions and management of documentation issues. Now, the document is ready for testing.

Testing

Testing involves measuring the quality of the document. This involves review by quality analysts on parameters like correctness, completeness, adherence to standards, and usability.

Packaging

Packaging means making a document ready to deliver to the client. There are two types of packaging:  book design and binding; and integrating help in application. If the help manual is in book format that is supposed to go along with the product, it goes for printing to produce copies. Online help is integrated with the help of software developers in the respective application. Online help is always delivered with the help of CD or other devices that can be used to carry the data. There are different types of such deliveries to help the clients, depending on the product.

Maintaining

Maintenance involves maintaining the deliverables. For example, it may involve content reuse analysis and elimination of redundant data from the document sets. It may also include template revision or inclusion of new product features. Understanding the DDLC helps in efficient and quality document creation.

 

 

 

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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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