Posts Tagged ‘Style’

Understanding Styles – Word 2003

October 29, 2007

In Microsoft Word, the term style refers to a collection of formatting commands that are put together as one and given a name. To apply a style, simply select the text you want to format or position the insertion point in the paragraph you want to format and then select a style in the Style list box on the Formatting toolbar. When you apply a style, all the formatting settings in the style are applied at once. Styles in Word come in four types:

  • Character: This formats the selected text within a paragraph, even a single word or alphabet.(This might cause style corruption)

  • Paragraph: This Affects all the properties associated with a paragraph’s appearance, such as text alignment, line spacing, borders and shading. Paragraph styles can include character formatting.

  • Table:  This gives a consistent facade to table borders, colors, shading, alignment and fonts.

  • List: This changes thealignment, numbering / bullet-ed components and fonts used within lists.

You can create, use, and modify the four types of styles in the same basic manner and you can access all style types in the Styles and Formatting task pane, (Select Format à Styles and Formatting) the Style list box on the Formatting toolbar and the Style dialog box. Before you start customizing your documents using styles, you should take a look at the collection of built-in styles provided with Word.

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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.