Issue 61, 2 June 2002
In this issue...
Why technical editors should know something about business
Follow-up: What's wrong with this procedure?
Follow-up: Use of hyphens
Follow-up: Cheap ways to learn expensive tools
My books: Taming Microsoft Word 2000 and others
Tracking advertising results: Adminder
Diversify your business and your income
One good reason for technical editors and writers to know something about business is that many of us are writing or editing material about products that are used in businesses for business purposes.
You really need to know something about the industry that's using those products, just as you need to know something about the technology that makes those products work.
In a way it's part of your audience and task analysis. If your main user audience is accountants, or warehouse workers, or automobile designers, or whatever, understanding what they do and why (and how what they do fits into the workflow and the balance sheets of the companies they work in) can help you write appropriately for that audience.
In fact, I think such knowledge is as important for the writer and editor as it is for the business analyst and the software or hardware designers and other members of the development team -- and especially important if you're writing or editing other stuff like marketing materials, white papers, or policies and procedures.
So even if you don't have to cope with dealing directly with clients (because you're not self-employed), knowing about business is important -- and in many cases it can improve your chances of getting a well-paid job, simply because you have those extra skills.
Of course, if you are dealing directly with clients, or considering a freelance career, you need to learn to apply many business principles to your own life and working style. I am adding new articles all the time to the Business Tips, Tools, and Techniques section of my website; I welcome your suggestions for topics to cover or tips you'd like to pass on to other readers. http://www.jeanweber.com/business/index.htm
I have finally written an answer to the question of what's wrong with the example procedure, and provided one possible revision of the procedure. You'll find it here: http://www.jeanweber.com/howto/procxans.htm
I don't claim that my suggestion is the best rewording of this material; my priority was to make it unambiguous. You are welcome to send your suggested improvements to me. If you do, please indicate in your note whether you want your name or e-mail address excluded from the note if I publish it.
In the last issue, http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews60.htm I mentioned that I might be misremembering whether the first hyphen in the phrase "clearly-labeled stand-alone tutorial" was acceptable. Two readers have written to comment on this.
Carol Luers Eyman firstname.lastname@example.org said, "Many style books recommend against the hyphen after adverbs ending in 'ly,' and I followed the rule blindly for years before the reasoning behind it became clear to me one day: adverbs ending in 'ly' always modify the word immediately following them, so they don't require a hyphen to indicate which word they modify ('neatly dressed woman,' 'hastily prepared remarks,' 'readily available materials').
"But in sentences with compound adjectives, the first adjective sometimes modifies the next word and sometimes modifies a later word. For example, in 'small college professor' the word 'small' might modify 'college' but it could also modify 'professor.' If the former is true, adding a hyphen after 'small' makes the meaning clear."
Lea Galanter email@example.com wrote, "I was taught that '-ly' adverbs are NEVER hyphenated. (I think I recall, though, that in the UK my editor friends do hyphenate these kinds of adverb phrases, so maybe we were just taught differently.) ...I think the clearest way to handle this phrase is to punctuate it this way: a clearly labeled, stand-alone tutorial."
Thanks to both Carol and Lea for clarifying this point.
Back in issue 4 of this newsletter, http://www.jeanweber.com/news/tenews4.htm I published an article titled "Cheap ways to learn expensive tools" in which tip #4 suggested, "Do you know any college students? They can often get software at student prices, sometimes significantly cheaper than the normal price. College staff can often do that too."
A reader recently wrote to ask, "Is it 'legal' for a student to sell or give away (originals of) student versions of software to someone who isn't a student? Going by the tip you've given, I get the impression it's OK."
My response: What I had in mind (but didn't say clearly) when I wrote that tip in 1999 wasn't "student" or "educational" versions or licenses of software, but ordinary full-license software being sold at a discount to students. In any case, what is "legal" would depend on the wording of the software license. For much software, this wording has changed since early 1999, so even if it were allowed then, selling a student or educational version of software to a non-student is probably not allowed by most licenses now.
If you want to follow this suggestion, be sure to check the license first. You should also be aware that much software sold under an "educational" license these days cannot be upgraded to a later full-license version unless you pay the full (not upgrade) price for the later version.
I use Adminder, an ad-tracking service, and I recommend it to anyone who is doing any kind of marketing on the Web. For more information, visit this site.
Powerful secrets, tips, tools, and techniques for turning small businesses into BIG paychecks. Get full no-obligation information here.
© Copyright 2002, Jean Hollis Weber. All rights reserved.
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