What are the things you should keep in mind if you’re working as a part of a writing team authoring a reference manual? Or what are the things you should keep in mind if you are managing such a team of technical writers?
Here is a good blog post by Lesley Hays, an Aussie technical communicator, reporting from the trenches:
Where do you begin when first writing a reference manual?
As with any writing, it helps to start with general information and gradually become more specific.
In the case of a reference manual, I’d start with basic contact information for support, log in details, and an overview of the system to provide the user with a very basic starting point. Then start going into more detail, first about the consistent areas of the system (global navigation, common buttons etc.) and secondly, about really specific parts relevant only to that particular client.
Do you find it difficult explaining technical information to the lay person?
It can be hard, as simply replacing jargon with regular words doesn’t necessarily work. Sometimes the concept itself can be quite foreign making it very tricky to communicate even if using 10 year old English.