Write Right the First Time

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A Tech Writer's Primer for Avoiding Documentation Defects

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Write Right the First Time

  1. 1. Write Right the First Time A Tech Writer’s Primer for Avoiding Documentation Defects by SueAnn Spencer
  2. 2. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 2 Why Should You Read This Presentation?  Because you want to find your errors before your release is out  Because you want to make fewer errors as you develop your product documentation  Because you want to understand why errors happen so easily
  3. 3. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 3 What Is an Error Anyway?  Anything that is wrong  Something that needs improvement  Anything that can be done better  Something sometimes called a defect, a mistake, a bug, a flaw, a blunder, or a fault
  4. 4. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 4 Why Do Errors Happen?  Because we humans aren’t perfect
  5. 5. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 5 Where Do We Create Errors?  In content (accuracy, completeness)  In organization (structure, location of information)  In sentences (structure, tense, voice, grammar)  In words (spelling, appropriateness)  In style (format, tags)  In files (name, contents)  In use of tools (writing, editing, publishing)
  6. 6. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 6 Why Do We Want to Avoid Errors? (1)  To do the job we are hired to do  To make the job easier and more interesting  To save time  To save money  To prevent additional errors  To have more energy for non-errors
  7. 7. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 7 Why Do We Want to Avoid Errors? (2)  To improve the results of content reviews  To improve the results of performance reviews  To earn respect  From our peers  From our managers  From our users  From ourselves  To survive in the marketplace
  8. 8. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 8 How Do We Find Errors?  Self checks  Spot reviews  Peer reviews  Formal reviews  Visual inspections  User feedback
  9. 9. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 9 How Can We Prevent Errors?  By understanding how we make them  By identifying at which stage we make them  By pinpointing where we make them  By knowing how to detect them in the first place  By understanding what we do right
  10. 10. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 10 How can we reduce our chances of making errors? (1)  By improving our skills  By improving our product knowledge  By editing what we write  By writing to our style standards  By organizing our source material  By asking for technical checks  By asking for editorial checks
  11. 11. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 11 How can we reduce our chances of making errors? (2)  By using our tools better • Writing and editing software • Spell checkers • Graphics editors • Reference material  Dictionary  Thesaurus  Style guide  Standards (such as w3c.org)
  12. 12. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 12 Your Action Plan  List your common errors, including brief descriptions and examples, as necessary  List what steps you need to take to prevent making the same error again  Identify what skills you need to improve  Identify what steps you need to add to your self- prevention efforts  Identify what you need to know more about
  13. 13. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 13 Remember . . .  You can write right the first time!
  14. 14. SueAnn Spencer Write Right the First Time 14 Q&A Use LinkedIn to contact SueAnn Spencer  Questions  Comments

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