Presented by Berry Braster at Documentation and Training West, May 6-9, 2008 in Vancouver, BC
Products and processes are becoming more complex, while companies worldwide increasingly have to deal with different languages.
Although technical documentation is predominantly written in English, it can often be difficult to understand due to its complexity: complex sentence structures, multiple meanings and synonyms easily result in confusion. In addition, many readers’ command of English can fall below the level of those who created the documentation, which especially applies to non-native English speakers.
In addition, for documentation that has to be translated into other languages, one cannot expect the translation to be of great quality if the source file was ambiguous to begin with.
As a result, these are often the consequences:
* Confused and frustrated readers
* Safety risk
* Damage during operation or maintenance
* Liability claims
* High localization costs
* Unsatisfactory translations
* Higher training support costs
* Ineffective customer service
* Unanticipated costs as a result of miscommunication
In this context, clear and effective writing has become more important than ever before.
Simplified Technical English (also known as Controlled English) is a method of writing that makes technical English easy to understand. The use of Simplified Technical English stimulates (global) acceptance of technical documentation as it improves readability and prevents misunderstandings and misinterpretations.
Benefits of Simplified Technical English
* Standardization of technical writing
* Quality assurance for technical documentation
* Efficient authoring and editing
* Reduction of errors, misunderstandings and safety risks
* Reduced time to market
* Easier to reuse, translate and maintain
* Cost savings due to reduced risk of safety, damage and liability claims
* Lower product lifecycle cost
* Content management: Simplified Technical English facilitates CMS through optimum reusability of content that is clear and concise
How controlled authoring facilitates XML and translations
As today’s authoring environment is changing to structured XML and content management, it would only make sense to also adapt controlled terminology and good writing practice rules to further improve reusability and create additional cost savings.
Doing so will not only standardize the content, it will standardize content management in general, create efficiency, and further increase the many benefits content management already offers. Reusability is the key word here, which applies both to the English content, as well as to the translations, which can decrease the content up to 30% AND save translation cost up to 40% per language! Cheaper translations are one aspect, but avoiding costs as a result of clear and unambiguous communication to our customers can be tremendous, let alone the fact that our customers simply understand what they are reading, which will be a further enhancement to your product.
Simplified Technical English is a long-term and comprehensive initiative designed to standardize the way technical publications are written. It facilitates globalization in a reliable, cost-effective and efficient way.
In addition to bringing clarity and consistency to technical documentation, STE can save you up to 30% in translation cost. Furthermore, STE facilitates industry standards like DITA, S1000D, and SCORM, but also XML and CMS through optimum reusability.
If you are opting to go towards any of these standards, if you have a translation requirement, or in case you are only looking to create clearer and understandable technical documentation, Simplified Technical English is the standard to take into serious consideration.
Berry Braster will explain the principles of STE and its benefits, and will give you practical and real-life examples in the form of case s
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