Technical writing newsletter 23: November 2007

Document status: archived

Documentation alternatives

Software documentation (in the form of online help systems, user guides, and manuals) is one method of helping your customers to use your software. However, before you commission a technical communications company to produce this, consider these alternatives to documentation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are a popular method of presenting information. How effective are they? What alternatives exist? The TechScribe website no longer has a FAQ page. Find out why on 'FAQs: do better solutions exist?'

Conference reports

The representation of motion, medical illustrations, graphics for international use, and a case study that showed the return on investment for visual instructions were some of the fascinating topics presented at the STC conference.

The ISTC conference started with a presentation about new tools and the role of technical communicators, and a lively discussion followed. Other presentations covered the technical communication lifecycle, the effect of agile programming on documentation, and authoring for translation.


In celebration of World Usability Day ( on November 8, we bring you a light-hearted example of something going very wrong with software (this error has now been fixed). The composite image shows the price that we were quoted (£179,769,313,486,231,570,000,000,000,...) for a short rail journey.


For high-quality printing within 48 hours, use the new FilePrint ( service, which has been introduced by one of our former clients. Upload your PDF file, and your printed material will be delivered to your door.

For authoritative definitions of software and systems engineering terms, use the new SEVOCAB website (

If you need to produce internationalized software, see the Software Internationalization Course Materials (, which are now in the public domain.

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