COMPARING TECHNICAL WRITERS
Technical writing is a form of communication used within a business to address issues, concerns, or to
simply inform individuals in the business' community of events and plans. It is also used to maintain
data, facts, and keep track of internal documents.
The conducted interviews were setup to analyze two different fields in which Technical Writing is
applied and how the Technical Writers deal with the documents they formulate.
Originally, I attempted to contact Mr. Jeffrey Tweten, owner of Tweten & Co., to schedule an interview
regarding the Technical Writing he constructs within his online business. When I discovered his website
not working, and no email address, I attempted to call him. I had not heard back from him in time to
schedule an interview, so I moved on to choice number two.
Aaron Williams, a journalist for World Wrestling Entertainment, maintains numerous memos and
documents within the company. However, it was when trying to email Mr. Williams that I discovered
"Due to the mass amounts of mail the WWE receives, they do not answer student related letters."
My third choice was Dr. Emery, a teacher of various humanities courses here at Cottey. Unfortunately,
Dr. Emery was sick this past week and was therefore unavailable for an interview.
My fourth choice was Mrs. Becky Kiel, Acting Library Director, for Cottey. Mrs. Kiel, nonetheless,
was busy with the reparations being made to the library as well as other matters and was hardly sitting
still all week.
So, after failed contact with my original top four choices, I decided to interview two women I knew
would be available and would love to share their information with a learning environment. My first
interview was conducted with Christine Jergens, a representative and P.R. woman for Johnson &
Johnson. It lasted two hours, including chat time, and was handled over the phone.
My second interview was conducted with technical services library assistant and cataloger, Jeanne
Besaw. I emailed Jeanne Sunday, and she responded promptly Monday afternoon.
From the interviews I determined that Christine constructs memos, data sheets, and contracts weekly
while Jeanne drafts memos, company policy, and correspondence letters on a fairly regular basis.
Questions: Christne's Response: Jeanne's Response:
1) Do you consider yourself to Sorta, I don't use it too much. Yes I do consider myself a
be a technical writer? technical writer and have
considered myself so, for many
2) What are two types of Memos, data sheets, and I have written many memos over
documents that you usually contracts are my most often used the years and in my former life
write? documents. as a bank executive I wrote
company policy on a fairly
regular basis. Now as a technical
services library assistant, I
mainly do correspondence
letters, both via e-mail and snail
3) How many estimated hours of I tend to be constructing Because I do a considerable
writing do you do per week? documents approximately nine amount of cataloging I also do a
hours a week. considerable amount of writing.
Whether it is requests for
information or requests for
refunds or merely an
acknowledgement letter these are
all vital in my area. How well I
communicate my request greatly
depends on whether I get a
response or even the response I
am after. On a very busy day I
could be writing for 4 out of my
4) Do you consider your Absolutely! They are like silent Absolutely!
audience when writing? watchdogs.
5) Do you try to find out more Definitely, it's always good to As much as possible, some of
about them beforehand? know who and what you're what I do is a cold contact in
dealing with as well as how other words I may not get the
they'll respond to you. chance to know more than the
name of the person and what
their position is. But I would
definitely address a P.E.O. very
differently than I would a book
vendor or even differently than
correspondence to the faculty.
All demand a certain level of
respect, but all are very different
in tone and content.
6) If so, what questions would Yes, I always like to know my I am always asking how I can
you ask about them? audiences' position with the better serve the Cottey
company, their background, community whether it is the
personality if any! P.E.O. Sisterhood and P.E.O.
relations office or the faculty's
needs or like recently I have
begun to help two area private
schools to build their libraries
and so I am getting to know their
needs via communications,
7) Do they know a lot about the Sometimes, however, a lot of Not often, many times a request
topic? documents I write can deal with is for something that is well, not
ideas for products or other to be too blunt IMPOSSIBLE.
companies transactions in the And I have to tactfully relay this
market. information and make the gentle
suggestion of trying something
else. Most of the time people do
not realize what is involved in
getting an item into circulation
here and well I try to inform
without offending. Its always a
8) Have you ever written for Definitely. Mostly everyone of Most of my SWAN
multiple audiences? my co-parts and sometimes my correspondence is for everyone
counterparts as well. in MOBIUS. And often what I
relay as far as my work is passed
along to many different arenas.
9) Do you write formally to Yes, it depends on how well I Again it depends on the
some and informally to others? know them. audience.
10) Will you construct your I will construct my documents to Yes, in a setting where I am
sentences a certain way? How? how I communicate with them, informing a P.E.O. or
and what I know someone will acknowledging a gifted item I try
understand better than someone to be as formal and polite as
else. possible. In certain faculty
instances I am fairly formal with
my correspondence. With certain
vendors requests need to be
formally worded. But, then there
are times where formality will
offend. I have forged a number
of good working friendships with
my peers at several institutions
in the region, also with a number
of faculty members who know
11) Do you ask someone to read Yes, I'm not an English major. I For basic correspondence, no.
an early draft of the document? usually have my husband do it But, when I was writing what
now since you're no longer would become bank policy yes, I
around. always had first an impartial
party read my draft and then a
person who was intimate with
the project. This always served
me very well.
12) Does you awareness of the Always, always know that what Always.
audience affect the way you you write is read and
13) How long does it usually Depends, sometimes two hours. The more a person writes the less
take to write one document? time it takes, of course this
greatly depends on the amount of
research one needs to do as well.
14) Do you ever have to update a Not me personally. Frequently, yes.
15) Are there some you keep We keep templates, but we My monthly statistics report has
templates/formats of? update regularly. become a standard template for
16) Do you use letterheads or I send post-it notes to co-parts. I never ever use post-its to
post-it notes to communicate? convey information other than to
myself or my immediate
supervisor. I mostly use
letterhead or Cottey stationary.
17) Has a typo ever seriously Yes, and if you must know it Only online and only in that it
affected you? regarded the letters B J company hurts my pride when it has
instead of J J company. happened which is fortunately
18) What happens if your I'm calling it a day until my boss Gee I have really nice
computer crashes/ office in fixes the problem. handwriting and have had
useable? positive feed back on my
handwritten memos as well
though this is a last choice in a
crunch method! Never ever miss
a deadline it is career suicide,
period end of discussion. And
never ask for more time! They
will give it to you and then never
give you another project.
19) Is everything backed up? Yes, discs and generators. Always!!!!!!!!!!
20) Do you now consider Yeah, and I think I'm going to N/A
yourself a technical writer? bring that up next pay raise.
Both technical writers gave responses that were informative and sometimes shocking. The goal of the
project was to compare the two different styles and analyze the way the women handled their
After the interviews Jergens was impressed with the aspects of technical writing that so many people
handle everyday and don't consider. Besaw was more than happy to lend any further information
regarding the subject.
Both women agreed that the documents they handled are very important and sensitive, and one of the
most important aspects of those documents is the audience to which you are writing.
Overall, the interviews were useful in discovering that no matter what your field, you will probably deal
with some form of technical writing at some point and it is more than helpful to know the different
styles a technical writing class can teach you.