What is the difference between the Oxford, Harvard, and the Serial comma?
The Oxford comma (also known as Harvard comma or Serial comma) is the comma inserted just before the coordinating conjunction (usually ‘and’ or ‘or’, and sometimes ‘nor’) in the last item of a list of three or more items. For example: Gurpreet's blog is dedicated to Jack, Jill, Red Riding Hood, Captain Kirk, and Spock.
When to use the Oxford Comma?
I use a serial comma ONLY when it satisfies all the following three conditions:
Technical writing is an art to delivering technical information to technical or non-technical users in a simple and easy to understandable form. The person who represents the technical information in a user adaptable format is called as a Technical Writer. The documents that a technical writer creates are called technical documents. A technical document can be one of the following:
Why do product manuals sound formal and stiff-upper-lipped? Why don’t users read manuals? These questions have haunted the hallowed precincts of Technical Writing for quite some time now. From what I have seen in Indian writers, I am forced to conclude that English Composition, as we were taught in school, is the culprit. Our merit was based on how verbose we were. They judged our style based on how ‘formal’ we were.
This post is inspired by an earlier post titled "Diff bet Tech Writing and Content Writing" on TWIN. This is an effort to clear the air over both forms of writing.
Let us start by examining the word “content”. Merriam Webster defines Content as “the principal substance (as written matter, illustrations, or music) offered by a World Wide Web site.” Content is also defined as the material, including text and images that constitutes a publication or document.
In 20 words or fewer
Technical writing is creating documents that help someone install, deploy, configure or use a product or a service.
In 50 words or fewer
Technical writing is creating documents that help someone install, deploy, configure or use a product or a service. It results in the creation of things such as user manuals, admin guides, instruction booklets and help systems, but not of business proposals, white papers, case studies, and so on.
In 100 words or fewer
Most technical writers in India (I’m part of this community) tend to focus a lot more on picking up awareness about documentation tools than about the craft of writing. This is an unhealthy trend, especially in a country where English is not the first language.
It’s a few days into your new job, you’ve just wandered back to your seat with your coffee (you're still getting lost), and your team-lead says, "There’s this product that’s gonna have a version 3 release some time next month. Two new features have been added. Can you update the online help?"
Ho-hum. There’s already some sort of a Help, and all you need to write about are the two new features. That should not be difficult. But wait, consider the following scenario:
Someone asked me, "So, what are you?"
"A technical writer."
"Eh, and what’s that?"
I realised that the noun phrase technical writer does not in itself mean anything at all unless it is described through attributes. So, what are these attributes that describe a technical writer. These:
- A technical writer understands what is being documented. The writer takes on the role of the reader, and learns everything that a normal reader would know, or want to know. The writer has domain knowledge and product knowledge.
"It is difficult getting a bunch of hyperactive seven-year-olds to concentrate on geography. I asked them to name five Indian states and most of them stopped with Delhi, Haryana and U.P.", lamented my aunt. I looked up from the newspaper. She'd been handling the unenviable task of "introducing" the "social sciences" at one of the lower classes in her school, and today had evidently been a bad day.
What is the major difference in above mentioned fields? Can e-learning be right to mention as Technical writing?