A writing guide for IT Professionals

Dawn Henman

Publisher Oxford University Press


RRP £14.99
Reviewed by Alan Pollard FBCS CITP
Score 6 out of 10

A writing guide for IT Professionals book cover At first glance I was optimistic that this book would fill a gap by providing advice on how to improve our professional IT writing, whether it is of formal proposal documents, manuals, design specifications or one of the many styles of writing that we have to deliver. Unfortunately, it is only when you get to the latter part of the book that these sorts of issues are addressed and then only very briefly.

Most of the book is a slightly patronising treatise on 'good' writing and on the psychology of thought translated to words. A whole chapter is allotted to the application of Total Quality Management (TQM) to writing which seemed to me to be stretching the art somewhat. The fact that the author is North American also limits the book’s appeal a little although, to be fair, the division of our common language is not as apparent as it can sometimes be.

There are some good sections. I particularly liked those on 'Making your Writing Persuasive' and 'Mastering the Art of Email'. There are also some good snippets throughout that make the book worth dipping into.

The final section of the book ‘Genre Guidelines for Some Common IT Documents’ (whatever that means) was where the book started to live up to its title, but even here it digressed. For example, I am not sure what ‘Use your body as your primary presentation aid’ for PowerPoint Lectures tells me about the written word.

Writing is a very personal thing and there are, it is true, some common conventions of grammar and style that we could all do well to adopt.

Instead of concentrating on these and applying them to IT work, the book tries to be all things to all readers; part psychology, part sociology, part body language, part humour and part theory. For me the book just doesn’t succeed but that is my view. Maybe you should read it to disagree. Write to me about it!

Further information: Oxford University Press