Our Best Words Blog

When doing business on an international level, as most technical writers do, it is important to study the culture of the audience you are writing for. Not only do different cultures have different ways of doing the same thing, but it is also common for the same thing to mean different things in different cultures – and not always in a good way!

Take Coca-Cola as an example, when moving into the Chinese market, Coca-Cola branded itself with a word which sounded like ‘Coca-Cola’, but translated as ‘bite the wax tadpole’ or ‘female horse stuffed with wax’, depending on the dialect. When this was pointed out to them, they withdrew their thousands of printed signs, and after studying 40,000 Chinese characters, came up with the more positive ‘happiness in the mouth’ – also phonetically similar to ‘Coca-Cola’, but infinitely more appropriate!

While cultural differences are more pronounced when also dealing with language differences, one should still be aware of them when dealing with different dialects of the same language. Imagine the confusion when American negotiators proposed to ‘table’ a motion, meaning to discuss the motion; their British counterparts understood that they wanted to ‘table’ the motion – to dismiss it. While misunderstandings can be cleared up face-to-face, it is not as easy when dealing with printed documents.

So, when writing technical or marketing documentation it is vital to research the culture of the people you’re writing for, and probably a good idea to find someone from that culture to proofread for you.

Coca-Cola photo courtesy of popsop.com,

by Ephraim King

I am sitting in a class with creative people from a potpourri of cultures and professional backgrounds. I am inspired to write again and ask … “Why not Tzfat”?

So many of us yearned for Tzfat while we were still abroad. I did. When I made Aliya it was elsewhere. I started in the South and moved to Jerusalem later. I maintained a connection while still abroad and frequently visit after Aliya.

Many like minded professionals have found their way here, drawn by the special spiritual and creative climate. Israel’s economic miracle has turned the Galilee into a powerhouse of hi tech

Until now – creative professionals with great experience and command of the English language and culture had to choose between professional fulfillment in the Center or spiritual and creative fulfillment in Tzfat.

The dichotomy is felt on Tzfat’s outer borders as you appear to cross between two worlds. The recent growth in hi tech surrounded Tzfat but has not hit Tzfat … until now …

A new medical school is opening in the fall. The Youth Center and Tzfat College, Tzfat Mayor’s office, Immigration Absorption Ministry, Nefesh BeNefesh Go North, and many hi tech, bio-tech and green/clean tech companies are bullish about the future of Israel’s Northern Frontier.

A beginning artist may have started as a child, learning to paint by numbers and connect the points. A child’s curiosity is encouraged and uninhibited by adults that tell the child what s/he can’t or shouldn’t do or be able to do or think.

The hi tech and Jewish world is all about connections. A point in physics actually has no mass at all, yet together we see something real. Now we have a dedicated team of lecturers and writers that will connect a veritable reserve of creative professionals with great opportunities in the area and without. We see the tremendous potential and are voting with our feet.

So come here and join us in our newest challenge in practical Zionism, not about land, but about space and time. Let’s transcend our restrictions and begin thinking outside the box … together … you and me … we …

Why Tzfat? Why not?

… To be continued …

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Technical writers translate complex subjects for users. They change technical jargon and turn it into understandable text for everybody. Regardless of the industry or field of expertise, there are three important tips for writing technical documentation.

Use plain English instead of complex phrases or buzz words

Every industry and market has its own buzz words. “Discussing it offline”, “working around it”, “streamlining operations”, “thinking outside the box”, “impacting the bottom line” belong in marketing materials, not in technical documentation such as user guides and manuals. Especially for tenders and RFPs and RFIs are buzz words and jargon the kiss of death – governmental agencies require that documents are easy to read and understand.

Understand the local lingo

A technical writer must understand the “local lingo” or jargon. For proper technical writing, the writer must fully understand what a certain phrase or term means to a customer and (end) users. Technology companies have the tendency to coin their own definitions. No online research will help the writer; only direct asking the source (content provider, product manager, software developer, etc.).

Recycle and reuse to avoid reinventing the wheel

Technical writing normally deals with similar documents within an organization over time. It is therefore not necessary for a technical writer to start from scratch for each project. Unless it is a nascent start-up, legacy templates, earlier technical writing documents such as reports, proposals, and user manuals are floating around in the organization. It is therefore a lot safer (and easier) to look for templates to tweak or to use as a starting point. For odd projects, there are normally examples that can be used as an outline.

These three tips will help you as a technical writer to be an asset to a team, to contribute user-friendly and customer-specific content that adds additional value to organizations.

Want to learn more about the difference between technical writing and marketing writing? Sign up for one of our courses! Email us at: info@ourbestwords.com

You can also call us at the Our Best Words Main Office: 02-656-3369
US & Canada: 1-786-507-8206

Ephraim King, CEO: 050-529-0775
Tracey Shipley, Marketing Coordinator: 054-810-8918

(Image courtesy of Susana Maria Rosende)

Immigrants who made Aliyah within the last 10 years could qualify for an 80% scholarship through the Misrad Haklita Voucher Program

Jerusalem – May 19, 2011 – Our Best Words (OBW), a Jerusalem-based company providing technical writing services and training, announced today that it opens its 4th technical & marketing writing course.

Topics include:

  • Technical Writing – writing, editing, proofreading, using graphics, online help
  • Information/Document Development – API, medical, hardware/software documentation
  • Skills – advanced use of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook Project and document management
  • MarCom – marketing, marketing writing, PR, social media

Since Tzfat is a hub of talented English-speaking professionals, we are opening our 4th course there to help immigrants and veterans start a new career as a technical writer,” said Ephraim King, CEO of Our Best Words. “Our program also includes an internship and assistance with employment placement.”

The course will take place on Thursdays from 9:30 till 18:30 at the Merkaz Tze’irim, 10 HaNasi St. in Tzfat.

Starting 7 July 2011, the 152-hour course consists of 8-hour sessions during 19 weeks.

The price is NIS11,000 (which includes a state-of-the art laptop with a fully licensed copy of MS Office 2010) or NIS 9,000 without a laptop. Additional discounts are available for AACI members.

Want to learn more? Contact us for an interview and placement test at:

Our Best Words Main Office: 02-656-3369
US & Canada: 1-786-507-8206

Ephraim King, CEO: 050-529-0775
Tracey Shipley, Marketing Coordinator: 054-810-8918
Email: info@ourbestwords.com
Website: http://www.technicalwriting.co.il/training/tech-writing-course-tzfat/

About Our Best Words
Our Best Words (OBW) specializes in providing quality technical communications to customers worldwide. The Company enjoys close relationships with a broad range of businesses – from startups to Fortune 500 companies. Offerings include corporate technical documentation, localization, technical communication, and technical marketing services worldwide. The Our Best Words team is comprised of experienced and dedicated professionals with years of experience in technical and marketing communications.
Visit OBS website at: www.ourbestwords.com

clip_image002Technical Documentation has been around for several centuries. Especially with the continuous launch and upgrade of technically advanced products and services, user guides and technical descriptions are needed.

Who was the first technical writer? Quite likely Cro-Magnon man when was drawing on his cave walls. However, most experts would agree that technical documentation appeared as early as the 14th century.

Geoffrey Chaucer detailed the purpose and operation of a navigation device. Copernicus, Hippocrates, Newton and Leonardo da Vinci wrote explanatory notes to demonstrate the use of their inventions. All these publications can be seen as technical documentation.

But the golden age of technical writing started with the invention of the computer and the need for mass technical documentation. It started during World War II with the major technological upgrade manufacturing weapons and the creation of nuclear technologies.

Modern day technical documentation is linked to computer science in general and internet in particular. Needless to say, the growth in technology users has sparked the need for technical documentation.

The growth in technical products and services has created the demand for professional documentation. This has created a new profession: technical writing. A good technical writer is an honest mediator between people who create technology and who use technology.

The domain of technical writers has recently expanded to a more interactive (Web 2.0, wikis) one. Technical writing has evolved from pure technical writing into technical communicating.

Want to learn more? Want to join the technical writing evolution? Contact Our Best Words at info@ourbestwords.com or call us at (972) 02-656-3369 or 1-786-507-8206