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August 25, 2003 Program Summary

What Are We Working on Now? Share and Compare Notes & Ideas offered attendees an enjoyable and relaxed opportunity to get the inside scoop on each other's projects, discoveries, events, and ideas.

What happens when you get a group of technical communicators in a room for show and tell? The answer is, Just about anything! The diversity of the interests, talents, and activities of the participants at our August 25th meeting was nothing short of amazing. From tools, tips, and tricks to new business ventures, we saw and heard a sampling of the creativity and originality that abound in our chapter. As one participant put it, it was like attending a mini-conference!

The sharing and networking opportunities also helped several people create connections with others who have complementary needs or interests. What a great way to meet your next client or collaborator!

Here are some highlights from the event:

A Region 8 Conference review...

Jackie Eldridge (right), a visiting member of the Santa Barbara STC chapter, described her experiences at the recent Region 8 conference in Las Vegas. She also provided highlights of the two presentations she gave on 1) how to develop a company style guide and 2) how to make the transition to management.

Jackie's presentation “By the Book: How to Develop a Company Style Manual” (a 184K PDF file) offers comprehensive help on compiling a style guide, encapsulating a dozen years of experience, mostly at Tetra Tech, Inc. in Santa Barbara. With her permission, we have added this item to our site's collection of best practice tools. Click the image to view or download the file.

By the Book: How to Develop a Company Style Manual
Combining technical communication with a crafts business

It's all in the marketing...

Mike Lujan and Debbie Bruton (from left) show Robin Dudley and Jennifer Shay how they successfully combine communication skills with a new crafts business called The Corks of Wreath. In addition to hand-crafting wreaths from recycled corks, they have designed flyers, business cards, press releases, and other pieces, and will soon be setting up a Web site — all with help from STC colleagues. Information presentation has never been this much fun!

Robin Dudley (third from left) later explained how she is making the transition from a small business owner to a marketing consultant, d.b.a. Dudley Business Development. After years in the car rental business, she's tapping her design skills and a passion for writing and advertising to help other businesses with their marketing needs. Although the start-up road continually challenges a new consultant, Robin's secret for success is simple: “Network, network, network”!


A little experiment leads to a breakthrough...

Keri Morgret, a technical communication specialist at Quintron, made a significant discovery recently in the area of user manual design. After finding it difficult to get company employees to read the typical 8.5" x 11" notebook-style manuals, one day she tried printing a copy on a new Canon copier/printer.

Since she was looking for a more user-friendly manual size for the field technicians, she started experimenting with the copier. She selected the automatic print-and-saddle-stitch feature, which caused the printer to automatically reduce, repaginate, staple, and fold the copies into little brochure-sized booklets. (For anyone familiar with what goes into designing a saddle-stitch format using a page layout program, the ability to do this on the fly is truly astonishing!)

Before long, Keri began to receive requests from many people in the company, including the president, to get copies of that “cute” little user manual. Now everyone wants to read it — go figure!


SLO STC's best kept secret...

Adele Sommers gave an overview of the growing collection of technical communication “shareware” resident on the SLO STC Web site.

Did you know that you can get templates for and examples of project plans, typeface conventions, editing checklists, a generic test plan, a product test and release checklist, and now, tips on developing a style manual?

All of this and more is available in our best practice tools section. You can download and use the tools as they are, or modify them to suit your needs!

And if you have any checklists, planning or contract documents, templates, or other tools you'd like to share, please let us know! Contact pres@slostc.org.

Photography by Mary Meyer.


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