Prioritizing for the Reader

Download the episodeDuration 3:11Size 2.5 MB Sometimes there are a lot of little notes that can be written about a feature, and sometimes features do several different things. Is it always best in an overview topic to document it all comprehensively?


Providing Marketing Content

Marketing provides the product content that customers read first. This content introduces customers to features, to actions, and to parts of the user interface. Customers will then expect to find those things in the documentation, using the terminology they read in the marketing materials to search the contents or to check the index. For example,…


Style Guides

The Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications is our house style guide, of course. It contains information specific to computer terminology and usage (e-mail, toolbar), and it also gives guidance for general writing (that vs. which, tone and the reader). The broad coverage makes it very useful as a single reference that I can…


Screencasts ARE documentation

We came across a blog post, written by a technical writer, who describes her personal experiences with creating screencasts. Her manager asked each member of her writing team to create a video featuring a product that they document. This line from the blog post strikes a chord for me: Another great thing: this product has…


Filling in the Story

Even though I really like concise writing, sometimes the whole story has to be told. Download this episodeDuration 3:16Size 2.3 MB


Learn by watching 30-second video tips on Facebook

Part animated comic strip, part screencast, these short videos are designed to help you learn Visio 2010. What do you think about this strategy and the videos themselves? Visio video page on Facebook: If you use Visio, you can download the beta from For articles about using visuals effectively and other topics, free downloads,…


Getting Hired as a Writer at Microsoft

It seems that there are not a lot of writers with programming experience who are looking for a position in a big company. But there are jobs available–a search on the Microsoft career site for the job title “programming writer” returns 24 results as of August 15, 2006. My team has been looking to hire a programmer/writer for…



One of the things I’ve noticed lately is how much I’ve been trimming out extra words. Sometimes these extra words show up as little intros to sentences; for example, in some topics a large percentage of sentences include a phrase like “you need to…” and then go on to give an instruction. In most cases…


Workflow and Copyediting Time

It’s copyediting time for me. On my team, that means a lot of topics are all now ready for me to do what might be my final edit pass over them—in fact, half of the documentation set for this product is ready. The other half will be ready in about a month, and I’ll have…


The IM Model of Tech Writing

Thoughts about highly-targeted information delivery. Download this episodeDuration 2:14Size 2.0 MB