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Check if or check that? Or: Have you tried turning if off and on again?

How often do we read or write that we should check something? Example: "Check if the computer is connected to power." Clear message, no misunderstanding. But what if it says: "Check that the computer is connected to power." more ...

Ten questions for Ines Lasch, intern at parson

Ines Lasch just finished her vocational training as a technical writer and is doing an eight-week internship at parson. We asked her ten questions. more ...

Vocational Training for Technical Communicators. How Does it Work?

Anja Schiel, trainee, and Ulrike Parson, CEO of parson AG, offer their insights into the vocational training for technical communicators. more ...

Make Technical Documentation Intelligent - From Content Management to Content Delivery

In this article, Martin Kreutzer and Ulrike Parson describe how you fill content-delivery portals with intelligent information so that users quickly get the right answers to their questions. more ...

parson's mentoring program

You sent the job application and the interview went well. Now comes your first day at work. Everything is strange: colleagues whose names you immediately forget, business processes, the ERP system. Even the coffee machine doesn't work right away. And where was that meeting room again? more ...

What do you do? An attempt to explain a profession

Sunday afternoon. Coffee and a black-forest cherry cake. Great aunt Else pats the back of my hand. “And you, child? What do you do?”

I, the child, 51, have got three options now:

(1) Tell the truth.
(2) Stuff a huge piece of cherry cake into my mouth and hope that auntie Else forgets her question.
(3) Say I am a translator.

Schwarzwaelder KirschtorteSchwarzwälder Kirschtorte. © VRD | Fotolia.com

I look at the cake and decide to go for option 2. But aunt Else’s 87-year-old memory is as crisp as the chocolate flakes on top of the cake. She waits until I have swallowed. Then she asks, impatiently: “And?”

Aunt Else must have put a lot of cherry liquor in the cake. Boldly, I announce: “I am a technical writer.”

„Oh. Do you work for a newspaper?“

I shake my head. „I write operating instructions”, I reply and let the small silver fork slide back into the cake.

„Operating instructions?“ Aunt Else’s eyebrows begin to tremble. „You mean like for my new washing machine? That one was in Spanish. I didn’t know you knew Spanish.”

“The instructions were translated into German, aunt Else. They were at the end of the book.”

„What a waste of paper!“ Aunt Else looks at me skeptical. “So you are a translator then.”

„Exactly“, I mumble with my mouth full.

„Why didn’t you say so in the first place, child?“

The story isn't true, of course. But sometimes, we find it difficult to explain what we do. Read our knowledge article What does a technical writer do? The article is currently only available in German. We are working on the translation.

 

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