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© 2011 Ugur Akinci
I love all kinds of writing but I’m especially passionate about technical communication and screenplay formats. In both genres I do have a good-sized library in my study. The technical communication side of my book collection is probably led by this fundamental volume that I’m known to have taken with me on a vacation or two:
Enjoying its 3rd edition at this writing, this is a basic reference that ALL technical writers, novice or experienced, should have on their book rack and within easy reach.
The volume has two main sections: GENERAL TOPICS and USAGE DICTIONARY.
GENERAL TOPICS (the first 199 pages) addresses many technical writing issues by TOPICS like “Indexing and Attributing”, “Web Cintent”, or “Content Formatting and Layout.”
USAGE DICTIONARYY (pp. 200-380) is an alphabetical presentation of hundreds of technical communication terms, each followed by Microsoft’s recommendation how to use and/or write it (correctly and incorrectly), together with a correct punctuation guide is some cases. The “See Also” cross-references liberally peppering the volume increases the utility of each definition.
Here is an example:
Use this term, not home directory, to refer to the dictionary or folder (indicated in MS-DOS with a backslash: \) from which all other directories and folders branch. Do not shorten to root when you mean the directory.
Change to the root directory and type
See Also: directory; folder
Besides its comprehensive coverage of a great number of technical communication terms and concepts, this volume has another practical use: settling various arguments and justifying the use of a certain style with which a text element is rendered. “Because Microsoft says so” is a justification I’ve used several times in my career to settle a dispute (successfully) because I sincerely believe that a lot of research and field experiencewent into every suggestion Microsoft makes in this manual.
Even if you are an Apple and Mac fan you should not let your platform and Operating System sympathies get in the way of owning a solid-gold reference book that will serve you well for years to come.
Highly and definitely recommended.
If you already own this volume, what’s your take? Do you agree that this is a must reference volume to have for all technical communicators? Please feel free to comment and share.