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Publications > Dateline Houston > October 2002 > Feature Article

Volume 42, Issue 2

October 2002

Best $5 Deal Around

By Lori Buffum, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Carter & Burgess Houston

Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are composed of STC members with common experiences and interests who share their skills and knowledge with each other and with other STC members. Most SIGs host web sites, many publish newsletters, and several sponsor e-mail discussion forums. For an extra $5, STC members can join a SIG and benefit from some of the best networking around. Which SIG should you choose? How can you join one? Take a look at the summaries we’ve provided, then visit

Canadian Issues

This SIG fosters communication among Canadian members of STC to allow them to exchange information and to discuss issues within STC that are of particular concern to Canadian

members or that arise by reason of political, socioeconomic, and geographical constraints because the members reside in Canada.

Consulting and Independent Contracting

This SIG serves as a focal point for information about practicing technical communication as an independent consultant. The SIG helps new and seasoned consultants alike to practice their trade more effectively. Activities include publishing The Independent Perspective, surveying members on business practices, and conducting seminars and workshops.

Education and Research

This SIG provides a link between technical communication practitioners and educators. Much research exists to justify the interest in developing effective user guides and manuals, and much more needs to be done. Activities include publishing Link, operating a dissertation/thesis database, and developing research-related articles.

Emerging Technologies

This SIG monitors the ever-expanding uses of technology in technical communication. New tools such as hypermedia, online editing, and multimedia systems are changing the way technical communicators work.

Environmental, Safety, and Health Communication

This SIG allows technical communicators to stay current on developments in this growing area of the profession. Activities include publishing ES&H News, reaching out to members of related professional organizations, compiling and publishing lists of related courses and curricula, and

developing an anthology of relevant articles.

Illustrators and Visual Designers

This SIG assists technical communicators involved in the production of illustrations, video, multimedia, and other visual forms of technical communication. The SIG provides opportunities to network, practice skills, and learn new tools.


This SIG enhances members’ analytical skills, promotes quality and usability concepts, encourages retrievability techniques that increase customer satisfaction, and promotes communication between members and the indexing community. The SIG gives members access to information and resources to help them improve indexing skills and the usability of products.

Information Design

This SIG assists members interested in acquiring the necessary skills to practice information design. Activities include publishing Design Matters, encouraging and making available information design research findings, success stories, and educational programs.

Instructional Design and Learning

This SIG helps members design, develop, and implement technical instruction in electronic and classroom settings. The SIG promotes sound design practices and educates members about instructional theory, research, and tools. It provides resources to members interested in the intersection of technical communication and instructional design.

International Technical Communication

This SIG helps members exchange information and learn more about how to communicate technical information to worldwide audiences effectively. It serves its members by exchanging information about globalization and localization projects, international standards, and the development of product information for international audiences.

Lone Writer

This SIG provides an avenue of professional education, monitoring, and support to writers who are the sole technical writers for their organizations, particularly those that lack inhouse resources and assistance on issues concerning their profession.


This SIG works to inform publication managers of trends and issues related to managing publications projects, educate them in practices that will result in high-quality technical materials, and provide a forum for the exchange of management information. Activities include publishing Management, offering information to current and aspiring publication managers, and presenting conference sessions.

Marketing Communication

This SIG is designed to help its members network, exchange information, and receive education on marketing and public relations writing for technical products. Activities include publishing Impact!, sharing information and techniques, conducting member surveys, and presenting sessions at conferences.

Online Information

This SIG provides opportunities for members to exchange information about online help and documentation development and encourages them to participate in Society programs related to online development. Activities include publishing HyperViews, presenting conference sessions, and promoting participation in the STC International Online Communication Competition.

Policies and Procedures

This SIG assists members in developing, implementing, and managing policies and procedures related to communication through education and networking opportunities and interaction with other related professional organizations. Activities include publishing Steps & Specs, presenting conference sessions, and developing articles.


This SIG provides a focus for members concerned with enhancing the overall quality of technical communication. Organized to establish a dynamic resource to discuss and apply the various aspects of quality to our work as technical communicators.

Scientific Communication

This SIG provides a forum in which members can exchange information about publications and presentations related to science or scientific research for a variety of audiences. Activities include publishing The Exchange, promoting sessions on scientific communication, and developing articles.

Single Sourcing

This SIG helps STC members develop knowledge and practical skills for researching, developing, and implementing single-sourcing solutions. The SIG provides information on the following topics: information models, cost justification, tools, XML, strategic planning, collaborative authoring, structured writing, and low-cost single-sourcing alternatives.

Special Needs

By researching and publishing information about products, services, and literature, this SIG assists technical communicators with disabilities in their career activities and assists all technical communicators in developing products that are fully accessible to users with disabilities. Activities include publishing Achieve!, maintaining a discussion list, and conducting a chapter-level outreach initiative.

Technical Editing

This SIG provides opportunities for members to expand their editing and proofreading expertise by serving as a forum for information exchange, professional support, and interaction among the SIG, STC, and the editing community at large. Activities include publishing Corrigo, sponsoring a very active listserv, and maintaining a web site.


This SIG focuses on issues related to the usability and usability assessment of technical communication, providing a forum in which members can share information and experience. Activities include planning and conducting presentations on usability and usability testing and compiling a bibliography of usability-related books and articles.

In the Next Issue

Stay tuned next month for testimonials on the benefits of SIG membership.

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P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434