Useful websites for technical writers

Here you can find a compilation of the best websites for technical writers and anyone who creates technical documentation and software documentation. Plus links to forums, LinkedIn groups, professional associations, and relevant conferences.

Technical documentation, user assistance, information design

General portals, articles, and courses

tcworld

Online magazine for international information development.

technische kommunikation (NEW ENTRY)

Selected contributions from the technical journal „technische kommunikation“ are also accessible to non-subscribers (in German).

TechWhirl Tech Writer Today Online Magazine

Online articles and resources for technical writers and technical communicators.

crowdsourceTPC

Online community that collects and shares resources in the fields of technical communication, professional communication, and business communication.

Documenting APIs: A guide for technical writers and engineers

Very comprehensive free course on writing API documentation.

Technical Writing Courses

Two free short online courses on technical writing in general, supplied by Google. The courses cover “the critical basics of technical writing” and “intermediate topics in technical writing”.

UA Training

Provides a collection of excellent presentation slides with a focus on software user assistance.

Dozuki Tech Writing Handbook

Brief online handbook on the essentials of technical writing. Nicely designed but very not very comprehensive.

Online Technical Writing

Basic online textbook on technical writing.

Web Writing That Works

If you browse a little you can find some good tips here.

WIKIVERSITY

Provides a basic online course in technical writing.

Indexing user manuals

The British/Irish Society of Indexers provides a number of articles on indexing user manuals (go to “Advice for authors > Advice to technical authors”). There’s also a corresponding usability study available (go to “About indexing > Usability of indexes”).

Fonts Knowledge

Various guides to the world of typography, supplied by Google.

User Experience and information design

Windows User Experience Interaction Guidelines

Comprehensive guidelines published by Microsoft.

The Usability Methods Toolbox

Brief explanations of the most common methods used in usability testing.

Usability.gov

Usability basics, methods, templates, guidelines and other resources, provided by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

UI Style Guides

Collection of links to a number of user interface style guides.

HCI Bibliography

ACM SIGCHI is the special interest group on Computer-Human Interaction of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). They provide a very comprehensive link collection as well as a bibliography database with more than 50000 listed publications.

InfoDesign

News and links to hundreds of articles and resources on information design.

A List Apart

Hundreds of comprehensive articles, mainly on web design and web technology.

tcworld

Online magazine for international information management.

Boxes and Arrows

Lots of interesting articles on design, including graphic design, interaction design and information architecture.

UXmatters

Following its motto “Insights and inspiration for the user experience community,” UXmatters provides a wealth of excellent articles on user experience and user assistance.

Articles of the Nielsen Norman Group

Frequently publishes articles on web usability. For good reasons this probably is the most frequently linked and cited website in its field.

jnd.org

Many great essays on product design. The section labeled “In Praise of Good Design” illustrates products that have some special positive characteristic worthy of comment.

Userfocus

Collection of comprehensive articles on usability and user experience.

Standards and legal issues

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

Here you can purchase copies of international standards.

EUR-Lex

Free information and downloads on European law, including the Machinery Directive. Provided by the European Union.

IBF News

News and articles on the topics of CE marking and risk assessment in English and German.

Online help development

Docs Like Code

Collection of info on the docs-as-code approach of documentation development.

MobileRead

Popular forums and comprehensive wiki on ebooks.

helpinfo

Website dedicated to the Microsoft Help format.

Structured authoring according to DITA and other standards

DITA XML.org

The official community and resource for the DITA OASIS standard.

Fluid Topics DITA publications

DITA specification in webhelp format.

Learning DITA

Free online learning courses on the basics of DITA.

Resources for learning DITA on the Oxygen XML blog (NEW ENTRY)

Various links and tips and DITA that can be helpful also if you don’t use Oxygen XML as your editor.

ditamap

Collection of DITA-related information and links.

DITA Writer

Various DITA-related articles and links.

DocBook

Originally intended for writing technical documents related to computer hardware and software, but can also be used for other sorts of documentation.

iiRDS

International Standard for intelligent information Request and Delivery. Standard for enabling dynamic information request and delivery.

S1000D

Specification for technical documentation related to defense systems, civil aviation products, construction industry products, and ship industry products.

Some less well-known or emerging standards and initiatives are:

Outstanding blogs and podcasts

I’d Rather Be Writing

“A blog about the latest trends in technical communication” by Tom Johnson.

Cherryleaf Technical Authors Blog

Blog on a wide spectrum of topics related to user assistance.

Scriptorium Publishing

Blog and Podcast on technical communication in general but with a focus on technology-related topics.

Every Page is Page One

“Readers can enter anywhere. Is your content ready to receive them?” by Mark Baker.

CyberText Newsletter

“Official newsletter and blog of CyberText Consulting: Technical communication specialists.”

Intelligent Information

Blog run by tekom with posts from various authors, both in English and in German.

ffeathers

“A technical writer’s blog” by Sarah Maddox.

Usable Help

“Examining documentation and help systems since 2002” by Gordon Meyer.

The Content Wrangler

“Content is a business asset worthy of being managed” by Scott Abel.

Technical Communication Center

„Tipps, Trends und Anleitungen zum technischen Schreiben und zur Kommunikation“, von Ugur Akinci.

“Technical Writing & Communication Tips, Trends & Tutorials” by Ugur Akinci.

I Came, I Saw, I Learned …

“The place to share resources, ideas, and general information about Adobe’s Technical Communication Suite applications: RoboHelp, FrameMaker, Captivate, Acrobat, and PhotoShop.” Blog by IconLogic, Inc.

TechComm Central by Adobe

Blog by Adobe staff and some guest bloggers.

Docu + Design Daube

Various FrameMaker resources.

ClickStart

Various tips on Captivate, CSS, Flare, HTML, dynamic help, and web-based help.

Writers of Silicon Valley

Podcast on UX writing and content strategy.

Write the Docs Podcast

Podcast on a variety of technical communication topics.

Instrktiv's Insane Instructions Show

Podcast on “topics related to creating user-friendly and compliant information for use”.

Style guides, writing aids

Mere style guides

Microsoft Writing Style Guide

The most frequently used style guide for software documentation. Replaces the Microsoft Manual of Style and is now free of charge.

Apple Publications Style Guide

Complete, downloadable style guide in PDF format (approx. 200 pages). To find the guide on the website, enter “publications style guide” into the search box.

Google Developer Documentation Style Guide

Comprehensive style guide that also includes a detailed word list.

Simplified Technical English

Here you can request a free copy of the ASD-STE100 Specifcation. This document contains many good writing tips and rules that can be applied to any project.

Jorsek Content Development Style Guide

Style guide from the manufacturer of a component content management system.

Salesforce Style Guide

Comprehensive style guide for documentation and user interface text. Can also be downloaded as a PDF (approx. 110 pages).

GNOME Documentation Style Guide

Writing style guide specifically for writing software documentation.

SUSE and openSUSE Style Guides

Style guides for documentation and texts within the user interface.

Drupal Handbook Style Guide

Brief guide with some basic tips.

Wikipedia Manual of Style

Brief style guide for writing wiki entries.

IEEE Computer Society Style Guide

Comprehensive style guide, published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Computer Society.

National Geographic Style Manual

Detailed guide to the preferred National Geographic Society style.

Web Style Guide

Comprehensive style guide and textbook on online information design in general.

Style Guide by Duncan Kent

Brief writing styleguide and dictionary of plain English (PDF, 19 pages).

The Elements of Style

Well-known, brief, classic reference.

Writing enhancement and proofreading

OWL Online Writing Lab

Collection of handouts and exercises on general writing concerns, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and professional writing.

Plain English Campaign

Collection of free guides in PDF format.

Plain Language Action and Information Network

Collection of resources that are aimed to help you write more clearly and more concisely.

Proofreaders’ Marks

Brief reference of proofreader’s marks.

Terminology

Microsoft Language Portal

Windows terminology for many languages.

IATE

Provided by the European Union. Gives translations between almost all European languages.

WIPO Pearl

Multilingual terminology portal that provides access to scientific and technical terms derived from patent documents.

Electropedia

Large electrotechnical vocabulary in most European Languages plus Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian. Provided by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

MyMemory (NEW ENTRY)

Offers machine translations as well as translation suggestions from a huge, freely accessible universal translation memory. The translation suggestions from the translation memory can provide important clues, especially when in doubt.

Google Books Ngram Viewer

Shows how often a particular word or phrase is used within the books indexed by Google Books. This information is helpful when deciding which term to use in a document (typically, used the more common one).

Google, Bing, Yahoo

When in doubt about how to write or use a word, a simple approach can also be to compare the frequency of use of the alternatives. Enter the alternatives within quotes into the search field of a general search engine and compare the number of results. The version that has the most results is probably the most common one and should therefore be preferred.

Forums, online communities

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, general groups are:

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, groups specialized on software user assistance and on online help development are:

TECHWR-L Email Discussion Group

Long-established online community in the field of technical communication.

Write the Docs

Global community of people who care about documentation: Slack network, conferences, and local meetups.

Reddit Technical Writing

Community on technical communication.

ProZ

Large directory and community for translators and for finding translators and translation agencies.

Techshoret- the Israeli Technical Writer's Forum

Forum for technical writers, marketing writers, translators, web designers, graphic artists, and associated professions in Israel.

HATT group

Group on online documentation tools, techniques, and concepts.

DITA users group

Group dedicated to supporting users of DITA (Darwin Information Typing Architecture).

Organizations, education

Organizations with a distinct focus on technical communication (in alphabetical order)

ASTC

Australian Society for Technical Communication.

ATTW

Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.

ISTC

Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators (UK).

JTCA

Japanese Technical Communicators Association.

STC

Society for Technical Communication.

TechCommNZ

Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand.

Tech Writers Without Borders

Global community of technical communicators helping non-profit organizations to improve the quality and effectiveness of their instructional materials.

tekom

German professional association for technical communication and information development and European Association for Technical Communication.

Other

Organizations in other countries (websites in local languages):

Finland: https://www.stvy.fi

France: http://www.conseil-des-redacteurs-techniques.fr

Italy: https://www.comtec-italia.org

Sweden: http://www.teknikinformatoren.se

Switzerland: https://www.tecom.ch

Related organizations (in alphabetical order)

ACES

American Copy Editors Society.

ACL

Association for Computational Linguistics.

ACM SIGCHI

Association for Computing Machinery, special interest group on computer human interaction.

ACM SIGDOC

Association for Computing Machinery, special interest group on design of communication.

AIGA

Professional association for design.

aiip

Association of independent information professionals.

AMWA

American Medical Writers Association.

ANZSI

Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers.

asis&t

American Society for Information Science and Technology.

asja

American Society of Journalists and Authors.

ASP

Association of Support Professionals.

ATD

Association for Talent Development.

ATA

American Translators Association.

Chartered Institute of Linguists

Has four divisions representing members from the professional backgrounds of translating, education, interpreting, and business.

EFA

Editorial Freelancers Association.

Learning Guild

Community for Learning Professionals.

ELIA

European Language Industry Association.

EUATC

European Union of Associations of Translation Companies.

GALA

Globalization and Localization Association.

HFES

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

IABC

International Association of Business Communicators.

IDA

Information Design Association in the UK.

IEEE PCS

Professional Communication Society.

IIID

International Institute for Information Design.

Indexing.ca

Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation.

Interaction, the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Group

British HCI group, a specialist group of the British Computer Society.

JAT

Japanese Association of Translators.

ISPI

International Society for Performance Improvement.

ITI

Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

ITIA

Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association.

IxDA

Interaction Design Association.

OASIS

Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards.

PACT

Professional Association for Computer Training.

PLAIN

Plain Language Association International.

CIEP

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.

Society of Indexers

British and Irish professional body for indexing.

UXPA

User Experience Professionals Association.

Xplor International

Association of users and suppliers of products and services that create, modify and deliver customized information.

Education

If you are looking for a colleges, universities, or schools that provide programs in technical communication, the following databases can help:

STC Academic Database

This database of the Society for Technical Communication lists academic institutions mainly in the U.S. and Canada, but also some in Australia and New Zealand.

Information provided by tekom

tekom provides a number of comprehensive surveys of academic institutions in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Conferences, trade fairs

Most important conferences on technical communication

STC Technical Communication Summit

Organized by the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

tcworld and tekom conferences

Organized by the German tekom. The conferences are combined with the tekom trade fair. The language of the tcworld conference is English, the language of the tekom annual conference is German. There are also some additional tcworld and tekom conferences in other countries, such as in India, China, and northern and southern Europe.

Technical Communication UK (TCUK)

Organized by the ISTC.

MadWorld

Commercially organized technical communication and content strategy conference.

UA Europe Annual Conference

Conference for software user assistance professionals. Commercially organized.

Other conferences with a distinct focus on technical communication (in alphabetical order)

ASTC Conferences

Annual conference of the Australian Society for Technical Communication.

Evolution of Technical Communication (ETC)

Annual gathering event for technical communicators in Bulgaria.

Information Energy

Aimed at bridging the gap between technical documentation, marketing, and content departments.

Technical Documentation RoundUp

Conference on modern technical communication. Commercially organized.

MEGAComm

Annual conference for technical communicators, held in Jerusalem.

soap!

Conferences on technical documentation, training, e-learning, and localization. Commercially organized.

TC Camp

Unconference focused on Technical Communications issues and the various applications used by technical communicators.

TechCommNZ Conference

Conference of the Technical Communicators Association of New Zealand.

UA Reloaded

Oranized by tekom. Intends to take a look at how new developments can be re-imagined in the context of user assistance.

UX Writer Conference

Virtual conference centered on UX writing.

Write the Docs

Focused on documentation systems, tech writing theory, and information delivery. Commercially organized.

Some conferences on related subjects (in alphabetical order)

AIIP Annual Conference

Conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals.

ACES Annual International Conference

Conference of the American Copy Editors Society.

Confab

Commercially organized conference on content strategy.

CDIM conferences

Several commercially organized conferences with an emphasis on DITA and information development.

ConveyUX

Commercially organized conference about making software easier and more enjoyable to use.

Content Marketing World

Commercially organized conference on the marketing of content.

EuroIA

European information architecture summit, organized by the European Chapter of ASIST.

IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (ProComm)

Discussions about communication and learning.

Information Design Conference

Organized by the the Information Design Association (IDA) in the UK.

Information Development World

Commercially organized conference for technical, marketing, and product information developers.

ContentTECH Summit

Commercially organized conference on the effective use of technology and processes to create, manage, deliver and scale enterprise content.

LavaCon

Commercially organized conference on digital media and content strategies.

LocWorld

Conferences and exhibitions for localization and translation professionals.

Learning Guild Conferences

Conferences and exhibitions on (mobile) learning.

Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading annual conference

Conferences of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading.

The AMWA Annual Conference

Conference of the American Medical Writers Association.

UPA Conferences

Conference of the Usability Professionals Association.

World Usability Congress

Commercially organized by an Austrian company.

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