Flora's Writing Center: Technical Writing

Tina the Tech Writer
Read about Dilbert and
the adventures of Tina the Tech Writer,
the patron saint of tech writers.
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When people ask me what I do for a living, I smile and reply, "I'm a technical writer."

I honestly love what I do. Where else can I write and actually get paid a living wage? (The whole starving writer is not all what it's cracked up to be.) Unfortunately, many tech writers do not feel appreciated by their non-tech writer co-workers. For those of you not familiar with the profession, this is a mini-tutorial of what to say and not to say to a tech writer.

  • "What is a technical writer?" - An acceptable response. This is the most common response and is asked by people who range from the innocent to the ignorant. Most technical writers will consider this to be a legitimate question under the usual context.
  • "Oh, you make documents look pretty!" - An unacceptable response. This is an insult. If this is your response, you are either very clueless, or evil and must be destroyed. Most self-respecting tech writers will remember your comment until the end of time and will choose not to help you in the future. In the simplest of terms, tech writers prefer to write or manage technical writing projects or departments. They do NOT exist to make your document look pretty, but they may answer your legitimate Microsoft Word questions.
  • "A technical writer! Oh, I'm very glad you are here!" - A VERY acceptable response. These are the most cherished, beloved words a tech writer can hear. You have made a friend for life.
  • "Hide! The tech writer is coming!" - Okay, this is just plain mean. Remember that hell hath no fury like a tech writer scorned!

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