The softer side of technical writing

Most people think of software, or perhaps machinery, when they think of technical writing. However, I think a broader definition is more useful. (Those of you who consider what you do to be instructional design have already figured this out.) Clear, friendly, and readable instructions are welcome in any domain, including cooking, for example. The successful "Take Control" line of inexpensive and easy-to-use ebooks recently introduced Take Control of Thanksgiving Dinner, and lest you think its just another cookbook, I encourage you to examine the free sample. It exhibits many of the qualities of any good technical publication; task-orientation, limited scope, and a well-defined sense of audience.

Another somewhat-related example that instructional designers should immediately pursue as part of their continuing eduction is Craft magazine. It's from the tech-heavy O'Reilly, but offers a much softer subject area that benefits greatly from a friendly, yet detailed, "how to" philosophy. After reading the first issue of Craft, you'll wonder why software manuals are so boring and ugly in comparison.

Posted: November 23, 2006 link to this item, Tweet this item, respond to this item