Monthly Archives: July 2010

My New Favorite Word

If you’ve read this blog, you know how much I love writing, and how much I love the English language. This week, in my A Word A Day e-mail, I discovered another reason to love our language: Psychopomp A psychopomp is a being who guides the newly dead to the next world. An ethereal escort. A ghostly guide. Driver of the Soul Shuttle. Who knew our language could label such a creature? I mean, who knew?

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A Tech Writer’s Moods

One of the things I love about tech writing is its hidden artistry. On the surface, a user guide or an online help topic looks formulaic, bland, term-paper boring. Woven within the text, however, so subtle as to be back story, are the things that make good tech writing good–its sentence structure, its elegant simplicity, and even its grammatical rules, such as the intent of the writing, which we can also call “verb mood.” Mood Modes Verb mood (or just “mood”) is a component of language, just like grammar. However, mood conveys something to the reader that grammar cannot: the writer’s tone. If, when writing a procedure, I write, “Open …

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Note! How To Use Alert Statements To Enhance a Procedure (The Procedure Series, Part 7)

In Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation, author Kurt Ament describes Note statements as “small text blocks that supplement other [text blocks].” (I call them “alert statements” to encompass all forms, including the Note, the Tip, the Caution, and the Warning.) Here’s how Kurt Ament defines each type of alert statement: • Note: Neutral or positive clarification that applies only in special cases, or that qualifies important points.• Tip: Positive suggestions that helps users apply information described in a [text block] to meet their specific needs.• Caution: Negative alert that a particular action can result in data loss, data corruption, security problems, or performance problems.• Warning: Negative alert that a particular …

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