Precise word choices are one of the hallmarks of a great technical writer. Even if you don’t have much difficulty picking the right words and phrases when expressing your own thoughts, I’m sure you’ve encountered a situation where you ran into problems interpreting a client or SME’s writing/requests/emails. Here’s some links to some of the handy reference tools that I sometimes use to help me interpret a client’s requests or find the perfect word or phrase. Hopefully these will make a difference in your writing in 2011!
- Idiom Dictionary (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com). Sometimes it’s really hard to bring home the bacon when you shoot yourself in the foot while reinventing the wheel. And if you have no idea what I just said, the Idiom Dictionary can point you in the right direction. Even though you’ll never use these phrases in your technical writing, this may come in handy when you have to decipher what that developer or subject matter said during that last interview.
- Unsuck It (http://un-suckit.com). If you ever work with anyone in a management position, you may be asked to aggregate a list of action items for when you circle back to discuss how to leverage the new documentation to synergize with the Marketing department’s promotional efforts. Although HIGHLY irreverent (just check out their logo!), Unsuck It can help you figure out what it all means so you’re not just guessing what your client asked for.
There you have it! I hope these prove as useful for you as they have for me. Best wishes during this holiday season from Shoap Technical Services!