Russ and others --
Your friend is right to look to the Internet for help in her new job
writing online documentation. Technical writers seem to be a very
generous lot in sharing tips with each other (and maybe they're
lonely working away in their cells and need human contact).
The Technical Writers' List is heavily trafficked by people asking and
answering questions, often about writing for the screen rather than
for paper. It's [log in to unmask] (subscribe through
[log in to unmask]). One of their members has a good
list of books on writing for the computer industry--I asked for it
last year and discovered that the compiler, Gregory Keith, was working
about a kilometer from where I live. His generosity was further
proved when he came and talked to my writing class....
There are also lots of Web sites. One place to start is Kitty
Locker's Introduction to the Web, a page that Kitty created for her
business-writing class at Ohio State University. It provides links to
readings and discussion groups on professional writing, and also to
lots of professional organizations (such as IEEE, the electronic
engineers, who have great conventions and publications). The URL is
Another good starting point is the page Resources for Science and
This is one part of another excellent set of links. I was amazed to
see a U. of T. e-mail address for its owner; turns out that Debbie Ohi
is a graduate in computer science who is now a full-time fiction
writer. Her pages are well designed and impeccably
maintained. The focus again is the network of professional
writers who want to keep in touch and share ideas.
These will do to keep your technical-writing friend occupied for
weeks, if she really starts browsing and following up links. Also
guaranteed to addict interested students and susceptible instructors!
Coordinator, Writing Support
University of Toronto
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