September/October 2010 – intercom

Category: September/October 2010

STC Wins Multiple APEX Awards

The Society for Technical Communication recently won an APEX Grand Award and two APEX Awards of Excellence in APEX 2010, the 22nd Annual Awards for Publication Excellence Competition. According to the APEX website, “APEX 2010 awards were based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the success of the entry—in the opinion of the judges—in achieving overall communications effectiveness and excellence.” Intercom was honored with the Grand Award—“of the thousands of entries, only 100 received Grand Awards, the highest recognition the APEX judges can present,” reported the website—while Technical Communication won the Award of Excellence for magazines and journals… Read the rest

Reminder of Deadlines for Awards and Honors

The deadlines for nominations for Associate Fellow, Fellow, the Jay R. Gould Award, and the Ken Rainey Award are upcoming. Please see the STC website,, for more information on these awards and honors or to find out how to nominate someone. Associate Fellow Recommendations: 4 October Fellow Nominations: 4 October Jay R. Gould Award for Excellence in Teaching Technical Communication: 1 November Ken Rainey Award for Excellence in Research: 1 November… Read the rest

2011 Conference Hotel Details

For the 2011 Technical Communication Summit in Sacramento, California, STC will have two official hotels. Attendees will receive the special STC rate of $174.00 a night for single or double accommodations at both the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton Grand hotels. The hotels will start taking reservations after conference registration is open. Reservations may be made online through a link that will be available on STC's conference website. The conference education sessions and exhibits will be across the street from the hotels at the Sacramento Convention Center. While we're there, this area will become known as the “Tech Comm Summit Triangle”—attendees… Read the rest

So You Want to Be a Summit Speaker

By Alan Houser | Fellow and Nathaniel Lim | Senior Member Speaking at an annual STC Summit gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge, let others learn from your experience, get and give feedback, and represent your company (or yourself). You also receive a complimentary registration or a registration discount. After the Summit, you receive copies of your audience evaluations and average scores for content and delivery. And if your evaluations rank you among the top speakers, you may also be invited to present an STC Live Web Seminar. Becoming a Summit speaker is not a walk in the… Read the rest

STC Certification Update

By Steven Jong | Chair, STC Certification Committee Since STC announced certification at the Summit in May, the momentum has built. A board-level Certification Committee has been charged to implement the plan. The original proposal has been honed into an operational business plan. The six areas of practice have been clarified and subjected to additional validation. (Later this year, an academic group will perform a formal validation.) The STC staff has analyzed the fee schedule, including possible member discounts, initial pricing, and package deals, and will soon engage a consultant to review the plan and offer further refinements. To help… Read the rest

The Value of Your LinkedIn Connections

By Rich Maggiani | Fellow I’m on my LinkedIn account every day. I get a lot out of it. I decided early on that to stay connected, nationally and internationally, I had to spend more time on LinkedIn. After all, it is the leading social media site for professionals, at least in North America. (In Europe, it’s XING. These same principles apply with most professional sites, though.) The purpose of LinkedIn is, of course, linking to other professionals. It is these connections—and the extended contacts that it engenders—that form the robust network from which you all can benefit. To get… Read the rest

Subjecting Theory to a Reality Check

By Geoffrey G. S. Hart | Fellow Research-backed theory provides design guidance that can keep us from traveling too far down blind alleys. It also points us toward proven solutions so we don't have to constantly reinvent the wheel. This is why I've introduced judicious doses of theory since I began this column: to demonstrate that it's relevant and not as scary as you might think. Unfortunately, there are compelling reasons why we should examine theoretical knowledge skeptically. Here, skepticism does not mean we should distrust everything we read; instead, it means we should judge research critically, demanding evidence but… Read the rest

Anyone Can Write

By Sarah O'Keefe | Associate Fellow “Anyone can write.” How many times have you heard that tired cliché? And how did it ascend to a cliché? It's pretty clear to me that most people are terrible writers. When someone says, “Anyone can write,” they actually mean, “Our writing standards are so low that anyone can meet them.” In other words, high-quality writing is not needed or valued. “Anyone can write” should really be “Anyone can write well enough for what we need.” How can you succeed professionally in a world where your primary job skill is not valued? One approach… Read the rest

From Third Grade to Today

By JoAnn Hackos | Fellow When I started to write, I was nine years old and a third-grade reporter for our grammar school newspaper. By the time I reached eighth grade, I was the newspaper editor and learned typesetting and layout. Reading strips of typesetting and using hot wax were an early part of my education. Later, I was editor of my high school paper and responsible for the photography and layout of the yearbook. When I began teaching English at the University of Texas, I helped students produce a literary magazine. We've come a long way with technology, but… Read the rest

"Automagic" Labels for Heading Cross-References

By John Irwin | Senior Member Introduction This article solves a perennial problem with cross-references in technical documents that use numbered headings. This article: Provides methods for creating conditional cross-reference labels (e.g., Chapter, Section, Subsection) that “automagically” adapt to heading-level changes. Assists technical writers who use Microsoft Word, because with these instructions they will no longer have to correct or maintain cross-reference labels, which would normally require special interventions (such as updating each instance manually or using a repair macro). If you use the conditional cross-reference labels described here, they will be unaffected by any future changes you may make… Read the rest