Technical communication is not just about any instruction booklet or a maintenance manual. If you export or import machinery, the manuals must be according to the laws and translated into the language of the importing country.
But what about the training documentation? Users must use the machines without any problems. The training material does not necessarily have to be a manual, but should be a didactically written document.Technical communication is often underestimated. The reader appreciates a well written document. It also increases brand identity in the company and lowers customer service working hours. A well written document does not end up in the drawer, but it is a real help for the user.
Reuse is the key to success: Documents are divided into reusable modules and are saved in a very clear folder structure.
The modules can be divided into:
But what are these properties?
The properties define your modules. These properties are metadata. Metadata help you to recognise and filter modules and information faster. We also have to divide the modules into information classes. But what are information classes? They define the type of module. Is the module a description? Is it a task sequence? Or a maintenance table? The information classes have different structures that are defined as a guide on style. The rules of grammar and style of writing allow the different technical communicators to write consistent modules. Except for the fragments, the modules are organised in such a way that they are independent. Thanks to this method you can create different types of documents according to the puzzle principle. This principle is based on reusing the modules in different positions within the documentation without having to make any changes.
If you want to go one step further and publish multilingual documents in different formats in a short time, you need not only a good folder structure but a Component Content Management System - CCMS. We are here to help you choose the most suitable system for you. Independently from the CCMS the documentation must be restructured in such a way that each individual module can be found and reused.
The optimisation of the technical documentation is definitely a first step. In a CCMS we work in XML, an independent layout format. The modules must be divided in such a way that they can be
reused in different documents in different publication formats.
To filter the information, defined metadata and taxonomies are essential and variables speed up the publication of technical data in just a few clicks.
The modules are saved in a database. From there you start with a project. The modules are reused in the project. This also facilitates the automatic correction of errors found during editing. Thanks to the XML format, projects can be published today in PDF and tomorrow in HTML or other formats. Technical communicators no longer have to deal with DTP but can concentrate on the texts to be written.
Verena-Kristin Bickel specialised in the field of technical translations and terminology management, with a focus on multilingual terminology in the aviation sector.
With the help of her know-how and state-of-the-art technologies, she has specialised in the optimisation of editorial processes and translations.
She is a certified editor for Simplified Technical English and develops working methods and courses in international technical editing together with her clients and her team at vb consultech.
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