Ideas for quality content (summary + video)

Here in Lviv, we were lucky to invite Patrick Keegan, Principal User Assistance Developer at Oracle, and enjoy his talk “Free your mind! And your docs will follow”. It took me some time to digest the whirling ideas and grasp the insights.

In this post, I would like to share two approaches Patrick discussed during his presentation and how I plan to adopt them in my routine as an Information Developer.

Here we go.

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Myths about information development: Busted

People tend to create stereotypes about things they don’t have much insight into. I broke into information development from a different industry, and I’d like to share my own experience of mythbusting. 

Before starting my career as an Information Developer, I was a translator and had little awareness of the role and its responsibilities. As a philosopher once said, “Theory without practice is empty”, and I’m glad I got a chance to fill the void and break my stereotypes during the first month of practical experience. Let me share some of them with you. Continue reading

Microsoft Writing Style Guide 2018: Procedures and formatting highlights

In 2018, we devoted several  posts to the latest writing style guide from Microsoft:

Yet, Microsoft guidelines is the topic one can talk about endlesly, isn’t it? 🙂 This time, I decided to focus on a few aspects of procedure writing and formatting that grabbed my attention most.

Grab your favorite drink, turn up the sound, and don’t miss the quiz at the end of the video!

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Here’s a sneak peek at the video highlights:

  • Use device-neutral verbs.

Users may interact with your product using various devices and input methods.

  • Minimize UI terminology (menu, tab, box, and similar.).

Fewer words make actions more clear. Compare these: “From the File menu, select the New option” and “Go to File > New”.

  • Mind the look and feel of your text.

Proper combination of font size, line spacing, and capitalization makes your text more scannable and easy to follow. Microsoft provides specific formatting advice to get you started.

Do you use these guidelines in your docs and did they make a difference for you? Let us know in the comments!

Linear User Guide: Is It any Good?

Many believe that written user guides are doomed to extinction. Although their usage has diminished slightly, they are not clean gone yet. They are still with us—serving their particular audience and making us wonder what is the best approach to structuring them.

With the rise in the popularity of online documentation, many have ditched linearity and adopted a topic-based approach to writing—faster, more convenient, and definitely more efficient from the user perspective; absolutely challenging from the author perspective. But is such an approach still any good for structuring user guides which, unlike help systems, don’t provide immediate assistance to the user, differ in the very context of use, and are designed with a clear intention—to teach and guide?

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Video

Microsoft Manual of Style vs. Microsoft Writing Style Guide

Since its first publication in 1995, the Microsoft Manual of Style has been a Holy Grail of editorial wisdom for rookie and experienced tech writers alike.  In January, Microsoft released a new edition—the Microsoft Writing Style Guide. How different are the 2012 version we’ve been relying on for the past few years and the 2018 one? Let’s take a quick glance.

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Book review: Logic made easy. How to know when language deceives you?

Logical thinking is high on the list of qualities expected from any Information Developer. But what exactly is “being logical”? If my writing is seemingly clear and makes sense to anyone who reviewed it, am I thinking logically? My layman’s definition of “logical” used to be “making sense”, but recently the book Logic made easy has come my way and added a lot to my understanding. Continue reading