I figured out how to use Microsoft Word—the non-Windows version–for creating my first technical documents while at Boeing. Do you know what a “side by side paragraph” is? (It is how you created a table before tables.)
Since then, I’ve mastered Adobe Captivate, analyzed data with Microsoft Excel, and created structured documents using the Syncro Soft Oxygen XML Editor. I didn’t do that by not keeping up with my profession.
For that matter, I wasn’t afraid when I got a call to work an assignment when someone walked out that morning because of a new word processing program; WordPerfect for Windows had just come out. Then there was that time I was an editor at Microsoft when a group was using Author-it to prepare text for localization. Don’t be fearful.
There was a time when style guides said that you didn’t use a bulleted list unless you had at least three items for the list. Now, web usability calls for making things scannable with consistency, so you might justify even a single item in a bulleted list to maintain parallel construction. What works changes; keep up.
A fun challenge
I still enjoy the challenge of telling or instructing others as effectively and simply as possible. So, I’ll keep being a technical communicator! After all, I have an Arts degree from an obscure university.