As a New York and Vancouver-based technical writer, I have been creating technical documentation since 1993. I have a diverse range of technical writing samples in my portfolio, including some great online help systems, printed books, and other materials that I can show you in person. This page provides samples of online and printed documentation from several recent technical writing projects, as well as samples I have developed specifically for this website.
Portfolio Sample List
- Online Knowledge Base – Kentico CMS with Visio mindmaps and policy briefs – helped staff understand and follow engineering licensing policy
- Online Help and Quick Reference Guide – DreamWeaver vs. MadCap Flare, Adobe InDesign vs. Microsoft Word; supported over 1,900 banking staff to use new system
- Standard Operating Procedures – reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction and sales
- Standard Operating Procedures – helped build customer goodwill
- Online Help and Quick Reference Guide – integrated with software implementation; external software vendor bought this innovative methodology from my client
- Software Documentation Suite – Online Help, User’s Guide, Installation Guide – documentation set of over 20,000 files; comprehensive documentation a prime factor in clients’ choice of this modeling tool
- Published Book – a Canadian bestseller that has helped over 40,000 people
Online Knowledge Base
Tools used: Kentico CMS, Confluence Wiki, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Office, GIMP, Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo
This technical writing project involved creating an online searchable knowledge base for an association’s registration and licensing process. I analyzed, organized, wrote, and delivered web-based policy briefs for the policies that govern the five stages of the process. I used Visio to create graphical mindmaps to show the relationships between 180 documents used by registration staff and volunteers, including the policy briefs and many related documents. There is a unique mindmap for each of the five stages, with clickable links to the documents used for the particular stage.
The sample mindmap shows the second stage of the process. The coloured links lead to policy briefs, and the black underline links lead to related documents such as forms and guidelines. In my client’s live site, each of the links are clickable. In the sample, the link outlined with a red dashed rectangle opens this sample policy brief.
I really enjoyed this opportunity to work with the great people at APEGBC and to employ many different technical writing skills, including technical writing and editing, web design, content management, and graphic design. It was a very creative and fun project that gave me the opportunity to use many different tools including Visio, GIMP, Kentico CMS, Adobe Photoshop, and Paint Shop Pro.
Online Help and Quick Reference Guide
Tools used: MadCap Flare, Adobe Dreamweaver, Adobe InDesign, RoboHelp, Microsoft SharePoint Designer, Microsoft Office, Temenos T24
Sometimes a confidentiality agreement with a client prevents me from showing samples of the work I did for that client. So I have created some samples that showcase the application of three software tools that I use as a technical writer: Adobe Dreamweaver, MadCap Flare, and Adobe InDesign. These samples serve to demonstrate my experience with the latest documentation development tools. I created these samples using trial versions of the software. Thank you, Adobe and MadCap!
Expert-Level World-Leading T24 Documentation Experience
The documentation samples show a generic T24 online help project and a T24 quick reference guide. I have expert-level experience in writing documentation for Temenos T24 banking software and in helping companies design custom T24 user interfaces. I was the first technical writer in the world to design customized context-sensitive online help for the T24 software, and I am the most experienced writer in Canada for documenting T24.
Adobe Dreamweaver CS6
I evaluated Adobe Dreamweaver along with a host of other web development tools for a recent Temenos T24 online help project. I found that Dreamweaver was preferable to RoboHelp 9 for ease of use in developing the .html pages for web-based online help. On the other hand, RoboHelp was more robust in terms of managing the hundreds of related files that make up a complete online help system. My recommendation to technical writers would be to use both tools for different aspects of the help development project! Here are two of the T24 help files I created in Dreamweaver. I embedded the cascading style sheet to present the formatting correctly in stand-alone .html pages. The Contents links and the Searching for Members link are active in these T24 help samples.
After I created the initial T24 online help prototype in Dreamweaver, as demonstrated in the two previous files, I created the final version in RoboHelp, as shown in the graphic at the top of this page. Right-click the T24 Help graphic, and then click “Open link in new window” to see a larger version of the graphic. The RoboHelp project has a navigation pane with Contents and Search tabs and a built-in Search tool that would have been very time-consuming to create in Dreamweaver.
MadCap Flare 8
[Note: I am currently using Flare 11] I then converted the RoboHelp project into a MadCap Flare online help project. There are some really cool features in the WebHelp project that Flare outputs:
- A Quick Search box at the top that allows you to search for a term on the page. Instances of the term are highlighted in yellow. Then you can click a button to remove the highlights.
- Contol of the window size and position, just like in the good old WinHelp days, but now in WebHelp format!
- Really slick graphic elements, in keeping with Windows Vista and later versions of Windows. I like the accordion-style method for toggling between Contents (TOC) and Search in the navigation pane at the left.
T24 Help – MadCap Flare – Active topics: Welcome, Signing In and Changing Your Password, Searching for Members, Personal Profiles
If you look at all three versions, I think you will agree that the MadCap Flare version of the T24 online help looks the best. (Though I feel disloyal to my old friend RoboHelp for saying so.) But this MadCap Flare experience has made a convert of me! Plus the folks at MadCap Flare provide awesome friendly telephone support, and helpful, detailed MadCap Flare webinars. I think they really believe in and stand behind their product. I have been talking them up so much that my friends’ new nickname for me is Ms. MadCap Flare! It has a nice ring to it. 😉
Adobe InDesign CS6
Adobe InDesign is the next generation of Adobe PageMaker, which I cut my teeth on back in the early ’90s. So it was like visiting an old friend to generate this sample from a T24 Quick Reference Guide I prepared for an earlier T24 documentation project. I enjoyed using some of the InDesign features that offer an improvement over PageMaker, such as almost unlimited Undo (very handy!) and the ability to export directly to PDF format without using Acrobat Distiller.
I wrote the original text as T24 online help topics using Microsoft SharePoint Designer. From there, I converted the T24 online help text to a Word document for the T24 Quick Reference Guide for my client. Now I have anonymized the text in the Word document and converted it to an InDesign doc. Talk about single sourcing!
You might wonder why anyone would bother converting a Word document to InDesign. InDesign has more robust capabilities for creating book-length documents (like running headers that change to display the chapter name). Also, the output of the text and graphics is crisper, especially in print form. See for yourself by printing the two T24 Quick Reference Guide files. Or I can show you when we meet.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
This project involved writing standard operating procedures for the delivery drivers for a multinational food distribution company. I worked with a management team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) across Canada to define best practices and to document procedures for every step of the delivery process, from checking the truck to providing exceptional customer service. This initiative was part of the company’s Standard Operating Excellence (SOE) program, and has resulted in reduced costs and increased customer satisfaction and sales.
In consultation with the Vice President of SOE, I designed and formatted the handbook of operating guidelines, and edited the content provided by the SMEs. The final handbook was 191 pages, delivered online as a PDF via desktops and tablets. The handbook was used to train over 1,000 drivers across Canada. I also checked and formatted the French translation, and wrote original French content.
A second stage of the project involved creating a Recertification and Audit handbook to track the training program. I also helped the head office develop an SOP template for use by finance and other departments across Canada.
Another SOP Project
This project involved writing standard operating procedures and guidelines for an irrigation company, capturing decades of knowledge and expertise through interviewing the owners of the company. I also edited the company website and helped the company expand their use of social media.
Able Irrigation’s website provides PDF files for their clients containing basic information about starting up their irrigation systems in the spring and shutting them down in the winter. I edited these two documents to clarify and re-structure the procedures, and Doug McKinnon of Stride Graphics and Web Design did the document design and graphics:
Online Help and Quick Reference Guide
This project involved writing end user documentation for the Coast Capital Savings implementation of the Temenos T24 banking system. It was an exciting project. As documentation lead, I worked with the developers to create a Coast-specific context-sensitive online help system that no other Temenos T24 client in the world had ever developed. The help is delivered using an innovative web-based methodology, which is possibly also the first of its kind. I was the first technical writer in Vancouver and in Canada with experience with the Temenos T24 banking system. I trained another writer, and she has trained a third! And so it goes. The diagram above shows how staff can click a T24 Help icon in the T24 software to open help for that screen. The T24 Help topic has links to related information on the company intranet.
In addition to developing context-sensitive online help for the T24 software, I also created attractive quick reference materials to help banking staff on Go Live day. I designed a T24 Quick Reference Guide and a business card-sized T24 Quick Reference Card. The personalized T24 Quick Reference Card can be distributed to staff during training, used while they practice in the software, and carried with them to remind staff of what to do on Go Live day. The front of the card has instructions for signing in to T24, and is personalized with the staff member’s log in ID. The back of the card, displayed here, shows staff how to get help on using T24 if they need it. All of the quick reference topics in the printed guide are also accessible online from a folder in their Favorites list in Internet Explorer. They are also available in the T24 online help, and from the Start Menu.
Tools used: RoboHelp, Adobe FrameMaker, Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo, Arena Software, OptQuest
A technical writing project for Rockwell Automation’s Arena Software involved updating a documentation set consisting of over 20,000 files, 7 user’s guides, 20 help projects, and 5 product inserts. I completed the updates in 9 months.
The product’s comprehensive documentation is highly regarded by end users throughout the United States and Canada, and is a key selling point for the software. In addition to updating the documentation with the new features and changes for the current release, I converted all of the files to the latest versions of FrameMaker and RoboHelp.
Some of the documentation was over 25 years old, and many different technical writers worked on the product over the years, resulting in a mix of writing styles, outdated language usage, and inconsistent formatting. Since there wasn’t time in the contract for me to do a thorough edit of the documentation, I provided the client with a list of recommendations for bringing the documentation in line with current company and industry technical writing standards.
Here are some pieces from the documentation set.
Installation insert: Arena Software Installation
Manual describing how to use the product with a third-party product called OptQuest:
I can show you the help projects and full manual set when we meet in person.
Published Book: How-To Guide
Complete Beading for Beginners by Karen Rempel
At first glance you might not associate beadwork with technical writing. But “How-to” guides are definitely in the category of technical writing. Writing Complete Beading for Beginners is one of the most fun things I’ve done. But then, I always have fun on every technical writing project. This book started out as a class assignment, and I never expected it to become a bestseller, with lifetime sales of over 40,000 copies! (A Canadian book is considered a bestseller when it has sold 5,000 copies.) Read more…