Jumpstart Your TC Career
Technical communication is an exciting and challenging career that offers unlimited opportunity for professional development. But to succeed, it’s not enough to learn a desktop publishing or Help authoring tool—you need to master the analysis process. This is a thinking person’s dream career!
TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp is the fastest, most efficient way to jump-start your career in technical communication. It covers key theory that you can immediately apply to your work. It also gives you the skills you need to continue to learn and grow.
Each element of theory is presented with hands-on exercises, real-world examples, and plenty of discussion. The course is sure to leave you feeling enthusiastic and well prepared to get started in the field.
- Understand the role of the technical communicator.
- Identify how TC writing differs from other kinds of writing.
- Correct common mistakes in writing.
- Master the correct writing style for TC.
- Be able to target your audience.
- Recognize and treat hazards in documentation.
- Learn and apply key theory for TC work.
- Plan and manage a writing project
- Write effective definitions and procedures.
- Develop visual design skills.
- Identify the purpose and key elements of main TC documentation types.
- Anyone new to the field.
- Anyone working in the field without formal training.
- Professionals returning to writing positions after a hiatus.
This session will provide an overview of the role of technical communicators in a company. Learn how technical communication differs from other forms of writing. Discover how to avoid mistakes, such as grammar and punctuation issues, that can detract from documentation, and review grammar and punctuation issues.
The following four key concepts to technical communication will be covered:
- Know Your Audience: Conducting audience analysis and key techniques for discovering your target audience.
- Highlight Hazards: Protecting users and the company through effective cautions and warnings.
- Break It Out: Using design and layout to help communicate information in a document.
- Don’t Write Blind: Learning to ask the right questions and analyze information; learning the product and process yourself.
The following five key concepts to technical communication will be covered:
- Be Consistent: Understanding how consistency helps users follow documentation more easily.
- Signpost: Making information accessible within the document.
- Don’t Violate Standards: Analyzing standards and applying them.
- Contemplate Before You Illustrate: Adding graphics that help rather than confuse; a review of the basic rules.
- Cut the Fluff: Trimming the unnecessary words out of documents to make them more useful.
Understand the functional purpose, key elements, and deliverables associated with the most common types of TC projects: user guides, installation guides, maintenance manuals, reference manuals, tutorials, specs, white papers, release notes, and online Help. Learning how to define technical terms is important.
In this session you will learn how to write task-based documentation (step-by-step procedures), which is an essential core skill.
Design good documents by understanding the basics of layout: fonts, paragraphs, white space, chunking, plumb lines, and visual hierarchies, nesting, and mating.
Discover how to write with clarity, avoid ambiguity, and be proactive in flagging suspicious data to produce better documents. This session will assist in the preparation for an ongoing learning experience in your new career.
FAQs for TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp
Q: What kind of background do I need for this course?
A: This is an introductory course, so you don’t need to have specific course work or training. However, we expect you to be intelligent, have a decent general educations (BA or
BS), and have decent computer knowledge. If you are a complete novice at using a computer, this course is not appropriate for you.
Q: What kind of computer setup do I need?
A: A decent Internet connection for the live lectures and any DTP (desktop publishing) tool, such as MS Word, for doing the assignments. You can pretest your computer to make sure
it is compatible with Adobe Connect (the webinar platform used for the live lectures). This info will be sent to you a few days before the first lecture.
Q: What if I have any problems connecting or getting into the lecture?
A: Contact Adobe Connect for tech support relating to that. You can also contact your STC moderate (not the course instructor). During a lecture, you can always let us know through
the chat box if you have lost audio or are experiencing other technical difficulties.
Q: I have questions about payment, billing, registration, etc.
A: Contact the STC office, not the course instructor! Try Deborah Krat at email@example.com.
Q: How much time will I need for studying?
A: Each lecture is 90 minutes. In addition, you have weekly homework assignments. Most students spend 5–10 hours per week working on their homework. Some weeks may be very simple
and others may be more complex. There is also a great deal of variation between students. But do plan to budget at least 7 hours per week (including the lecture time).
Q: What about the final exam?
A: This is an online, self-paced exam that opens after the end of the final homework. Your instructor will explain more during the last lecture. You do not need any special
additional software or computer setup to take the final.
Q: How is the course graded?
A: Assignments are graded on absolutes (not a curve). You need at least 60 on each of the 7 assignments plus at least 60 on the final exam to receive a certificate. (Your grade
percentage doesn’t appear on your certificate.)
Q: How hard is this course?
A: The course is similar to a graduate-level seminar. The expectations, pace, and workload are similar. Again, we assume that you are a responsible adult and will be responsible
for your own workload and study time.
Q: Do people fail this course? What is the passing rate?
A: Yes, people fail. If participants don’t turn in the required work, they fail. They still get a certificate that says they attended the course, but not
passed. However, we have never had some do all the work and not pass. Current passing rate is 95%.
Q: What happens if I try the course for a few weeks and then decide that I don’t like it?
A: You cannot get your money back after you have enrolled and started a course. Course sizes are limited, so effectively, you took someone else’s spot. If there are extenuating
circumstances that make it impossible for you to complete the current course, you can arrange to retake the course at a later date.
Q: What happens if I miss a lecture?
A: Hey, it happens. If you let the STC moderator know in advance, the session can be recorded and made available to you for a specific period. You are also encouraged to share
notes with other students. You should be fine. However, if you know in advance that you are going to miss more than two live lectures, you might want to take the course another
Q: Why can’t I just listen to recordings for all lectures?
A: Recordings are not available automatically. This is because there is a lot of interaction that can take place during the lecture. We also know that if you are passively
listening on your own, rather than interacting live, your attention (and retention) goes way down. For security reasons, we also do not make recordings available automatically.
Q: I am not a mother-tongue English speaker. Will this be a problem?
A: If your English is good enough to understand the course material and to produce appropriate homework, you will be fine. Many of our students are located outside of North America
and they succeed and thrive at the same rates as native speakers.
Q: I think that I can write but I don’t remember all that grammar stuff. Is that a problem?
A: You will be expected to catch up. All students are responsible for catching up on any weak areas, whether it is basic grammar and punctuation or basic computer knowledge.
Q: I don’t like technology. Is that a problem?
A: Frankly, yes. You might want to rethink this as a career choice.
Q: How much feedback will I get?
A: You will get general feedback on your homework, but not a specific edited markup. In addition to the instructor feedback, you will have access to general feedback for the whole
class, plus a forum in which to share notes and ideas with other students.
Q: Why can’t I see a corrected version of the final exam?
A: Simple security. If we released a corrected version, we would have to rewrite the exam for each class.
Q: Can I take another STC certificate course at the same time as this course?
A: We don’t recommend it. You need to focus on the material for this course.
Q: I have some special needs that make online training uncomfortable for me. Can this course be adapted for me?
A: We cannot change the course for the needs of one individual. There may be other training options available. You may also find that you are simply not suited for online courses.
Q: We have a team of five writers and we want all of them to take this course. Are there discounts for groups from one company?
A: Yes. We can also run the course as a private course for your employees only. Talk to the STC office about pricing.
Leah Guren entered the field of technical communication in 1980. Her experience as a writer, editor, tech pubs manager, and consultant allowed her to develop a variety of technical communication training programs. Leah trains new writers for this field, as well as conducting seminars and in-house training for TCs of all levels, engineers, and managers. Her clients include many of the top high-tech companies in Israel.
Leah is best known for her ability to bring dry theory to life, illustrating rules with real-life examples and providing a clear, practical guidelines which can be applied by writers of all levels and experience. Leah is an STC Fellow and a regular speaker at STC and other international technical communication conferences. For more information, see Cow TC (www.cowtc.com) or contact Leah (firstname.lastname@example.org).