Technical Writing ToolBox

A Blog on Technical Writing

Top 10 Best Jobs in 2013

best job

In my last blog post, I talked about the 60th best job in 2013- Technical Writing. But what about the top 10 best jobs in 2013?

Comcast released a list of top 200 different jobs in the U.S based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook. The data for this report came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies in the U.S.

Technical Writing: The 60th Best Job in 2013

Technical Writing is the 60th best job in 2013

Technical Writing is the 60th best job in 2013

Following the yearly tradition, Comcast released  a list of top 200 different jobs in the U.S based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook. The data for this report came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies in U.S.

Technical Writer was the 60th best job in 2013 though it slipped 23 ranks as it was the 37th best job in the same survey in 2012, and it slipped 34 ranks as it was the 26th best job in the same survey in 2011. Read the complete list of Careercast 200 tops jobs in 2013 here and the methodology of ranking here.

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How to document a sound?

As intriguing it may seem, have you ever considered the idea of documenting a sound in your writing? It seems impossible, right?

Apparently, technical writers working at Electrolux have discovered a creative way to do exactly that. This illustration describes various sound (noises) which occur inside a freezer during its normal use.

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Indian Technical Writer Salaries in 2013

Indian Rupees

It was Marsha Sinetar who once said “Do what you love and the money will follow” and technical writers in India seems to get both love and money out of this noble profession.

STC India chapter recently released their salary survey results for 2013 which provides an insight about the technical writing salaries in India and also about the technical writing industry growth in the region. Data collection, analysis, and report was published by Paresh Naik. Kudos to Paresh’s great efforts in publishing this salary survey!

About the Survey

STC India chapter conducted a survey of salaries of Technical Communicators working in India. This anonymous survey was open to all Technical Communicators working in India including those who are not the members of STC. The survey was conducted through a web based questionnaire open from 10th to 25th October 2013.
A total of 165 respondents completed the survey. One invalid response was excluded from the analysis. All the salary figures mentioned in this report are in Indian Rupees unless specifically mentioned otherwise.

The conversion rate between INR and USD or CAD is (approximately):

1 USD= 62 INR & 1 CAD = 56 INR [ USD = US Dollars, CAD= Canadian Dollars, INR= Indian Rupees]

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The ambiguity of it!

The ambiguity of it!

The sign stopped me– or rather, this text stopped me. Words are my profession; I seized these and demanded that they explain themselves, that they cease to be ambiguous.
― Daniel Quinn

Difference between Literary Writing and Technical Writing

Top 10 reads for the Year 2012: 30,000 views from 129 countries

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading my posts and for sharing your thoughts and meaningful comments. It has been an incredible year and I feel grateful for so many gifts I received from God this year. I graduated (with honours!) from a post graduate certificate in technical communication (read about my journey here), I started a new life in Canada, got a great technical writing contract,  and visited my family after a long time.

I started blogging in March 2012 and even though I had posted only 41 blog posts, readers from over 129 countries visited my blog more than 30,000 times!

My top 10 blog posts in 2012 were (according to the number of views):

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Adaptability and Flexibility for Technical Writers

A stretching lion at Ouwehands Dierenpark.

Adaptability and Flexibility skills are now becoming a necessity, and not just a desired quality, to get hired as a technical writer.

Employers want to hire highly adaptable and flexible technical writers who can learn latest technologies, new documentation tools, and can find their way in the maze of social media.
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Working as a Technical Writer in Canada

A lot of readers often ask me to blog about my experience of working as a Technical Writer in Canada.

I’ve lived and worked almost half of my life in the mesmerizing, beautiful, and energetic land of India. India is a land full of opportunities, especially for a technical writer. I was fortunate enough to work with very talented colleagues and supportive bosses and have learned a lot from the Indian Technical Writing industry through STC sessions and TWIN mailing list.

However, one fine day I decided to leave everything to pursue my dream of getting formal education in technical communication. I was fortunate to get a paid co-op (internship) which got extended even during my last semester. Not only that, I was fortunate enough to receive two great job offers and I started working even before my course was finished.

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Technical Writer Salaries- How much do Technical Writers earn?

Without money

Without money (Photo credit: Toban Black)

In our society, money is the most important reason for which people work. Of course, other factors such as learning and gaining a sense of accomplishment after doing their work are also a major driving factor for many. However, most of us will never work for free (at-least not full-time) since we all need to pay the bills. Compensation is often a closely guarded secret and we seldom talk about this important subject.

When I came to Canada, I tried to research over the salaries in the Toronto region and was surprised to see a wide range of reported salaries for technical writers in Canada (but none for the Toronto region). The best and honest advice about technical writing salaries in my area came not from the Internet but from the network I made with fellow technical writers in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

In this blog post I will try to share that knowledge for the benefit of others and will try to compare technical writer salaries in the U.S., Canada, and India.
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KeePass- The Best Open Source Password Manager

Program Name: KeePass

Use: Password manager

Cost: Free (Open Source)

Version: Classic and Professional (based on .NET architecture) Edition. Read comparison chart for more details.

Works on:

Classic Edition: Windows 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / 7 / 8 / Wine, each 32-bit and 64-bit.

Professional  Edition: Windows 98 / 98SE / ME / 2000 / XP / 2003 / Vista / 7 / 8, each 32-bit and 64-bit, Mono (Linux, Mac OS X, BSD, …)

Download Link: http://keepass.info/download.html

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Enrolling for a Technical Writing Course?

A depiction of the world’s oldest continually operating university, the University of Bologna, Italy.- Image Credit, Wikipedia

Learning on the job is a great thing. But, is getting a higher education in Technical Writing after gaining some real-world experience a good choice as well?

I worked as a technical writer for eight years in New Delhi. Recently, I took a sabbatical to pursue a post-graduate certificate in technical communication from Seneca College, Toronto. The term sabbatical (from Latin ‘sabbaticus’, from Greek ‘sabbatikos’, from Hebrew shabbat, that is Sabbath, literally means “ceasing”) means – to take a break from work for an extended period of time, to pursue a goal.

Looking back at the golden triangle of cost, time, and scope, my decision to pursue higher education in technical writing after getting the real-world experience, was challenging and satisfying at the same time. I often felt that the learning outside the classroom is more important than studying in the classroom. For example, walking a kilometer to my class in -25 degrees, and under a heavy snowfall was as challenging as writing a technical autobiography for my technical writing class.

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Speaking about Instructions

As they say, the unstructions were good :)

Visual Chemistry- Interaction of Text and Graphics

Visual Chemistry

Technical communicators often use graphics with written procedures to communicate complex ideas.

Illustrated text often delivers better information that is more readily comprehensible to readers. However, if illustrations are merely used as a decorative item then they do not convey worthwhile information, and have a significant impact on readers. Readers are benefited when illustration and text work together to put forward a complex idea in a simple way.

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Higher Education in Technical Communication- Is it worth it?

Technical Communicators are passionate about learning and often ponder on the question of higher education in the field of technical communication. The dream of gaining knowledge and credibility by pursuing higher education in technical writing often eludes technical writers at all levels of their career.

Gurpreet’s First Day @Seneca College

I worked as a technical writer for eight years in New Delhi and recently took a sabbatical to pursue a postgraduate certificate in technical communication from Seneca College, Toronto. The term sabbatical (from Latin ‘sabbaticus’, from Greek ‘sabbatikos’, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) means to take a break from work for an extended period of time to pursue a goal. In modern times, several professionals have started taking a sabbatical to pursue higher education in their chosen disciplines.

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My STC Presentation on Effective Presentation Skills

I conducted a skills development workshop for STC India (New Delhi) chapter two years ago. The workshop was warmly appreciated by the participants. The slide along with text transcript is available in this post.

Though the presentation shared in this post is two years old, the basic principles of presentation has not changed much in the past hundred years.

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Technical Writing ToolBox Readership Survey

Gurpreet Singh fights the wind chill and -24 degrees winters in Toronto, Canada.

Dear Reader,

I’m curious to know about you. Really!

Humans, in general, are curious beings. This is clear by the fact that About me is one of the most regularly viewed page on my blog.  You like to know about me. And I would love to know more about you!

This is a very unscientific survey to find out the demographics of my blog readers. This survey will only takes a minute or two to complete and will help me in writing content that interests you.

Please take a moment to fill this survey. Thanks in advance for your time.

7 causes of Inefficient Writing

Few weeks back I talked about three external factors that gives birth to inefficient documents.  Writers either have no or very less control over these factors. However, this is not always the case. In fact, usually a writer makes documents inefficient if they fail to remove common writing mistakes from their work. Let’s look at seven  factors that cause inefficient writing even when the content is technically accurate and the grammar is perfect:

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Difference between Task, Concept, and Reference topics in DITA

Task, Concept, and Reference in DITA

Task, Concept, and Reference in DITA

The Darwin Information Typing Architecture (DITA) specifies three basic topic types: Task, Concept, and Reference. However, people often get confused about these three types. Our cool (and knowledgeable) professor Bernard Aschwanden (he is an expert in DITA!) gave us an interesting exercise to differentiate between the three topic types in DITA.

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How to write a Technical Autobiography?

Technical Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

When I joined Seneca College (Post Grad) Certificate in Technical Communication, the first (informal) writing assignment we received was to write a technical autobiography (worth 10%) in the TCN700 (Technical Writing I) class.

Wait, I hear you saying that the term ‘technical’ and ‘autobiography’ don’t go well together. You are in good company as most of us in the class at that moment thought on similar lines. It was only when our dear professor explained the concept of technical autobiography when we understood how important it is for a writing student.

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