Technical Writer – Microsoft Word
"We'd like to hire you as our technical writer, but we still use Microsoft Word." I get that a lot. Don't worry about it, just because I use advanced authoring tools, it doesn't mean I will only work with those. I've used Microsoft Word in several jobs and I still use it when writing for Communicator magazine. It's not the most versatile authoring tool, but it has its place and I'll happily use it to write your user manuals.
When you hire me as your MS Word technical writer, I will make sure your document is written and designed in a way that makes it easier to convert into other formats. This is something you need to consider, as the day may come where you need to go beyond Word and PDF and present your content as HTML online. When creating your document, I will:
- Use a topic-based approach to each section, so that readers can 'dip in' and make sense of the content, without reading 'earlier' sections
- Use Styles to format the content, so that the appearance can be changed consistently and can be transferred to CSS stylesheets more easily in the future (see Why are Styles so Important?)
- Use hyperlinks for cross-references, and make sure each section has appropriate links to other related content
- Make sure the table of contents and indexing are designed to make it easy for readers to find the information they need.
When it comes to writing the individual sections, I will make sure your content explains 'why' and 'when' as well as 'how to'. I'll also make sure the content reads well and the flow guides the reader through each stage of the learning process, so that they can achieve their goals.
To hire me as your Microsoft Word technical writer, click the button below and get in touch. Just let me know about your project and the timescales and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
In Microsoft Word, there are two ways to format your text: direct formatting, where you use the toolbar buttons and other features to change the appearance of text, and style formatting, where you create a set of appearance rules, and then apply these to the text.
Casual Word users tend to use direct formatting, and it can cause a lot of problems in larger documents. What sort of problems? Take these for starters:
- Inconsistencies as people tend to apply slightly different settings as and where needed.
- Slow performance. There's more formatting information needed in the document, so it becomes slower to work with.
- No auto-generated table of contents. Word can create a table of contents automatically, but to do that, it needs styles. No styles, no toc.
There's also the issue of the amount of time and effort it takes to apply the formatting. It takes so much longer to apply direct formatting in every section.
With style formatting, the approach is different. Each style is a set of rules that define the appearance for text. You can then apply that style to any text in your document and the text will use the formatting defined in the style. For example, if I set up a heading style to have red text and centre alignment, I can apply that exact style to text just by selecting the text and then choosing the style. There's no inconsistencies as the formatting rules come from the same place - the style. Styles also make your document much more responsive, as the style settings are stored in one place instead of being included in the text (as is the case with direct styling).
Style formatting is quicker, more consistent, and allows you to get Word to auto-generate a table of contents. It also makes it easier to convert to HTML and XML, as with those formats, it is also more efficient to have the styles defined in a separate place (a stylesheet) to the text.
In the image below, all of the formatting is created with styles. So there is a style for numbered list items, a style for paragraphs, a style for the notes, etc.
When you hire me as your technical writer, I will make sure your document uses Styles. If you need to use Word yourself, I recommend that you learn about styles too, as they will save you a lot of time and frustration, and the same concept is used in other tools (not just authoring tools).
Click the button below to get in touch. Let me know what you need for your documentation project and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.