How To Topics?
June 21, 2010 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I have a technical writing background but haven't written a technical piece in a long time. Can you come up with some good topics for me to write about? I can't seem to think of anything.

I have a minor in Technical Writing from the 90's. I also created a proprietary manual a few years ago that I have no access to.

I'd like to create a few basic "how to" pieces that illustrate how I write such documents.


posted by MrningLight to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This thread has some good tips. Namely, find an open source project that need some documentation help, help them out with their documentation as a volunteer, and you both win. They get documentation that is sorely needed, and you get experience and portfolio material for a project that is actually being used.
posted by spinifex23 at 4:01 PM on June 21, 2010

Hi! I'm one of the editors of GNOME Journal, a web magazine devoted to the GNOME open source project.

Check out our article wishlist and other requests/wishes/workflow. Some ideas:

* How to do simple tasks in Linux's photo/graphics editing programs, like Inkscape and The GIMP. Basically, look up Photoshop tutorials and figure out how to do the same tasks with open source equivalents. Similarly, look up iMovie, Excel, etc. tips-and-tricks articles and write up the equivalents for Pitivi, OpenOffice, etc.

* Do some technical journalism, interviewing stakeholders in an organization that has made a switch to a new technology.
posted by brainwane at 7:13 PM on June 21, 2010

Book: Using Videos in Wordpress

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: About Wordpress
What is Wordpress? What is needed to use it? What's the difference between (and pros/cons of) and, and is that difference important to this task?

Chapter 2: About Video File Types
What's the difference between .flv, .mov, .avi, etc? Include a reference table.

Chapter 3: Downloading YouTube Videos
What software is needed to do this? How do you install and use that software to download a video from YouTube?

Chapter 4: Embedding a Video in Your Wordpress Site
Which plugin is best to use? How do you get and use the plugin?



posted by Houstonian at 5:28 AM on June 22, 2010

Quick Reference: Changing the Oil in a [year, make, model of your car]

Part 1: Equipment Needed
How many quarts of oil? Synthetic? Wrenches?

Part 2: Removing the Old Oil and Filter
Where is it? How do you get the filter off? Any safety or environmental cautions, like about disposing of the oil?

Part 3: Adding New Oil and Filter

Part 4: Log
A log for the person to keep track of oil changes (date, mileage, notes).

Include photos (taken and cropped by you) of the whole process. Give yourself bonus points if you started not knowing the difference between a hammer and a wrench, and can now do it yourself with confidence.
posted by Houstonian at 5:37 AM on June 22, 2010

Article: Choosing the Correct Software, File Type, and Settings for Screenshots

Section 1: Overview

Section 2: Survey of Available Software
Print Screen key? SnagIt? Freeware? How's the usability of each? Availability? Cost?

Section 3: Comparison of File Types
With the same screenshot, compare quality and size.

Section 4: Common Settings
DPI? Grayscale versus color? Monitor settings? What if you only need the screenshot for print? Only for on-screen viewing? Both?

Section 5: Conclusion
posted by Houstonian at 5:42 AM on June 22, 2010

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