Posts Tagged ‘Editing’

Effective Technical Writing

October 14, 2007

An effective technical writer should always analyze the audience to whom he is writing. He should use a standard format/layout and organize his document as such, and his reader is not lost while reading. Technical Writers should use a particular style format and follow it throughout the document and maintain a level of consistency. If you are working on MS Word documents you can use Templates that would make your work easier.

Audience Analysis

For most Technical Writers, the most important consideration while preparing a document is planning, writing, and reviewing. You adapt your writing to meet the interests of the reader. A Technical Writer will need to know the background-knowledge, experience, needs and interests of the audience. If you are writing for more than one audience, take some time and learn about the varied knowledge level of the readers and make your document such, every individual is able to follow through.The first thing to do when you analyze your audience is to identify the type of audience you are writing to. We can classify audiences based on their knowledge levels. Below lists a few to name.

  • Subject Matter Experts: These are people who have excellent knowledge in their area, Products/Services and so on. They have designed, tested and know everything about it. The major challenge faced by the experts is communicating to the Technicians and Non-Experts.
  • Technicians: These are people who build the products and services. They have excellent knowledge but more of a practical nature.
  • Non-Experts: These are people with the least technical knowledge of all. Their expertise may be as practical as technicians’ but in a different way. They want to use the new product and understand the technology. They are curious about a specific technical matter and want to learn about it—but for no specific reason.

Organization / Format

Preparing an organized document is very important. The reader should be able to navigate and read through the document without any confusion as to which section he is following. Sometimes you can have all the right information but if your organization is bad the reader might get lost. Organizing your document in proper order makes it easier for the reader to use and understand the document. Use tables, graphs and charts wherever necessary. A technical writer should follow a standard format throughout the document to maintain consistency. This also gives a good look/feel to the document that increases the interest of the reader to get in detail.

Style 

A Technical Writer should follow a standard style throughout the document, if you are not used to working with styles, you can reference books like Elements of style, Chicago manuals of style, Microsoft manuals of style and many others that should give you an idea. Consistency is very important while preparing a technical document or any document for that matter. Use headings to classify your sections, make effective use of bullets and numbering. Sentence style is very important; make sure you use the right Noun, Verb and Adverb. Revise your sentences if they don’t seem right. Always have a third person review your document, especially one who has no idea about the subject the document is based on.

I will add more details on Effective Technical Writing in my next post.

 

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Using Cross-References

September 17, 2007

When you are working on a long document in which you want to refer to other parts of that document, you can use cross-references to help readers find the information they seek. Word lets you refer to a number of different elements in your document—including captions, headings, footnotes and bookmarks you’ve created. 

Expand sub-documents before referencing 

You can create cross-references only within the current document. You might create a reference at the beginning of a long document, for example, that points readers to a table in a later section that lists statistics related to a new study. You can’t create a cross-reference to refer to a table in another document, however…If you’re working with master and subdocuments, be sure to expand the master document by clicking the Expand Sub-documents button on the Outlining toolbar. This makes all text accessible before you enter cross-references. 

Creating a Cross-Reference 

To create a cross-reference, start by placing the insertion point where you want the cross-reference to appear in your document. 

Procedure 

  1. Add the text that refers to the cross-reference (for example, a phrase such as “To view the results of the financial market”).
  2. Select Insert à Reference à Cross-Reference. The Cross-Reference dialog box appears.
  3. Click the Reference Type arrow, and then make your selection. You can choose from the following document elements: 
    • Numbered Item—lists all the text entries beginning with a number throughout the document.
    • Heading—shows all headings based on Word’s Heading 1, 2, 3 styles or outline levels
    • Bookmark—displays all the bookmarks currently listed in the document
    • Footnote—shows all footnotes inserted in the document
    • Endnote—lists the endnotes you have created
    • Equation—shows any equations you’ve inserted in the document
    • Figure—lists all figure references
    • Table—shows all available tables in the document 
  4. Click the Insert Reference To arrow, and then choose the element you want Word to insert in the document. This item will be inserted at the insertion point.
  5. Select the item to which you want to refer by clicking it in the For Which Numbered Item list box.
  6. Click Insert and Word adds the cross-reference to your document as you directed.
  7. Click Close 

Create links for a Web page 

Save your document as a Web page or make it available as an electronic file, you can have Word turn your cross-references into hyperlinks, so that readers can easily move from one page to another. To create links for cross-references, select the cross-reference you’ve created, and then display the Cross-Reference dialog box by selecting Insert à Reference à Cross-Reference. Select the Insert As Hyperlink check box, and then click Insert. The inserted cross-reference is created as a link to the other location in the document.

Working with multi-column documents

September 17, 2007

Multi-Column Document 

There are several ways to create a multi-column document. To create columns on the fly, click the Columns button on the Standard toolbar. If you have certain specifications—for example, exact column measurements, a spacing requirement of certain size, or more than four columns—use the Columns dialog box to choose those settings. Select Format à Columns.

Switch to Print Layout view 

Display your document in Print Layout view before you begin working with columns. Normal view, Web Layout view, and Outline view won’t allow you to see columns as they appear in print. To display Print Layout view, Select View à Print Layout or click Print Layout View to the left of the horizontal scroll bar. 

Columns Button 

The easiest way to create a multi-column document is to click Columns on the Standard toolbar. When you click the button, a menu presents the choice of one to four columns. Click the column setting you want, and Word will automatically update the layout in the document. 

Columns the Quick way

To create columns for a portion of the document, select the area to which you want to apply the column format before you click the Columns button. The only way you can see that Word has, in fact, created columns in your document is that the margins on the ruler will show the new boundaries. If the ruler isn’t currently displayed in your document, Select View à Ruler.

Custom Column using the Columns Dialog Box 

If you have certain column specifications that you need to enter—for example, you’re creating a follow-up report based on a format your department has adopted as its report format—you can create and work with columns by using the Columns dialog box. 

  1. Select Format à Columns. The Columns dialog box is displayed.

  2. Click the column format of your choice. The Preview section will show you the format you have selected.

  3. Click OK. The formatting is applied.

Word assumes that you want your columns to be created equally and that you don’t want a line to be placed between the columns you create. If you want to add a line between columns, select the Line Between check box and Word will add the rule.

Effective use of Bullets

September 13, 2007

Bullets are ideal when you want to convey short, to-the-point pieces of information. The fact that you use bullets instead of numbers implies to your reader that the points can be read and applied in any order; there’s no necessary sequence in a bulleted list. 

Effective use of Bullets

MS Word gives you the capacity to create bulleted lists with different looks. For instance, you can select bullet characters, colors and you can also indent them. Further, you can place bulleted lists side by side in a multi-column format.

Remember, when you create bulleted lists: 

  • Be concise: Fewer words make a larger impact. Prepare your prose down to fewer than three sentences if you can.

  • Keep to the point: A general rule is “one point, one bullet.” don’t try to cram more than one idea into each bullet item.

  • Be clear: Clear and simple is best.

  • Avoid excessive use of Bullets: Text Bulleted can be so much easy to understand as they are direct; you might be tempted to use them liberally throughout your document. Do not overuse bullets in your work and use them only when they bring clarity to your content.

  • Don’t use too many at once: Don’t make your lists onerous for your readers. If possible, say what you need to say in six to eight bullet points and move back to paragraph style.

Working with Tables

September 10, 2007

Methods of selecting text using the Mouse

 

Selection

Method
Table Cell Click the left edge of the cell
Table Row Click the left margin next to the row
Table Column Click the column’s top gridline or border
Entire Table Click in the table and press Alt+Num 5, with Num Lock turned off. Alternatively, click the table selection box that displays near the top-left corner of the table when you position the cursor over the table.
Graphic Click the graphic