by Jamie on December 22, 2013

Illustration of Victorian ice skaters on a pondI thought acronyms would be appropriate in this post since I’ve spent the last year at Microsoft, the Fiddler’s Green for all the little acronyms of the world. Here, acronyms run rampant through verdant fields of email messages, Lync statuses, and all other kinds of communication and documentation.

It took quite a while to learn just the subset of acronyms I see on my team. Now, I have a shiny new corner of my brain devoted to these little guys.


Happy holidays!


Year in review: it’s been a good year. I’ve been in learning sponge mode. In October 2012, I was hired as a technical writer to edit and publish articles in a technical support knowledge base.

Since then, my job has expanded quite a bit. I happened to be in the right place at the right time—our Content Manager and Knowledge Base Program Manager both left, and a few people started asking me if I knew how to run this or that report.

In June, Microsoft renewed my contract, and my title changed to Content Manager. In additional to writing and editing, I also manage the knowledge base. I also planned and presented our content strategy for 2014, and I’m currently executing each project in that plan. I also write a monthly newsletter that explains how the knowledge base benefits the team.

I enjoy the writing and editing parts of my job the most, but I’m grateful for these new responsibilities, too. I’m learning how to explain the connection between good documentation and business goals.


I never see this acronym at work, but I often hear the words it represents: what does a technical writer do?

Technical writers help people to use technology. 

There are many different specializations in the technical writing field. Many technical writers help IT professionals or consumers to use hardware and software. API writers help programmers to understand code.

Technical writing is found all around you: in product boxes, on websites, and in software. Technical writing also pops up in less tech-y places. Have you ever used the pictures-only IKEA instructions, looked at the laundry tag on a t-shirt, or looked up how to jumpstart a car? All those things are procedures, a fundamental part of technical writing.

What’s next?

My contract ends in June 2014. If it’s not renewed again, I’ll look for another technical writing job in Seattle, preferably also in South Lake Union (also known as Tom Douglasville). I’ve gotten used to the short commute, the yummy food trucks, and the 53,000 incredible Tom Douglas restaurants. I recently attended a DITA workshop in San Francisco to prepare for my next role. Although my current team doesn’t use topic-based writing, I’ve noticed that many companies in Seattle do.

On a side note, if you like the vintage illustration in this post, you can find tons of free images on the British Museum’s Flickr. They just uploaded 1,019,990 (!) images taken from old books.




Happy Holidays!

by Jamie on December 22, 2012


While making this, I discovered that my Mom’s Scrabble set is missing a Y. That must be why she always beats me. Definitely.



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