Online groups, winter 2014

Guidelines for technical illustration

In reply to a question about 'official' guidelines for technical illustrations, especially line drawings, members gave these comments:

Serial comma

A team of technical communicators has people from 7 countries. Only 4 out of 10 people are native English speakers. The manager of the team is American.

The style guide recommends the serial comma. The British member of the team told the manager of the team that the serial comma is not used in the UK. The manager was surprised at the comment, and asked whether the serial comma is used in the UK.

At school, some members were taught not to use a comma in front of and. Some members use the serial comma, and some members do not use the serial comma. One member uses the serial comma in technical publications, but he does not use it when he writes other types of text.

The Oxford Guide to Style says, "Use commas in place of conjunctions to separate elements in a list of three or more items. The presence or lack of a comma before and or or in such a list has become the subject of much spirited debate. For a century it has been part of OUP style to retain or impose this last serial (or series) comma consistently, to the extent that the convention has come to be called the 'Oxford comma'. But it is commonly used by many other publishers both here and abroad, and forms a routine part of style in US and Canadian English."

ISTC groups on LinkedIn and Yahoo!

ISTC has a discussion group on Yahoo! (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/ISTC_discussion/info) and a group on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1858546). The Yahoo! group was established in 2000, before LinkedIn existed.

Some people are in both groups. Many people have a strong preference for one group. Some people think that the quality of the discussions is better on the Yahoo! group, but other people do not agree.

The LinkedIn ISTC group profile explains that "this group is for ISTC news and for ISTC members to connect with each other in LinkedIn. It is not intended to replace the members-only forums, where we post news of jobs and contracts, discussions about technical communications issues and tools, and news."

Safety instructions with products

To comply with European Product Safety Directives, a member puts safety instructions in manuals. He emphasises that the safety instructions must be read before the product is used.

Management wants to supply a short 'welcome booklet' that explains that a manual can be downloaded from a website.

The company claims compliance with the Low Voltage Directive and Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive for CE marking. The member learnt that the safety information must be on paper in the box.

Management agreed to supply a safety leaflet with each unit.

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