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Publications > Dateline Houston > December 2002 > Feature Article

Volume 42, Issue 4

December 2002

Third Annual Worst Manual Contest

Just a reminder for the holiday season: when all else fails, read the manual.

Have you ever been so frustrated with a manual or set of instructions that you cursed the author and wished you had never bought the product in the first place?

Does this sound familiar? How about $100 for your frustration? Technical Standards, Inc. (TSI), a Southern California documentation services company, is offering $100 for the winning entry in its annual “Worst Manual Contest.”

Send a manual or set of instructions that is hard to understand, poorly written, or just plain wrong. Send it if it has bad grammar, too much legalese, is poorly translated, or has missing steps. If it is the worst entry, you will win $100.

“We thought we would have fun with this contest. Everyone has had trouble with a manual,” says Michelle Wier, Director of Operations of Technical Standards, Inc. “That’s why we started our company. People like products they understand how to use, and good technical documentation reduces the need for technical support. That’s why good manuals are so important.”

You don’t have to send the whole manual; excerpts of the worst parts are okay. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2003, so check those holiday gifts for potential entries. Entries must be in English. For complete contest rules, see the TSI web site at The winner will be announced on the TSI web site on February 28, 2003.

TSI specializes in contract technical writing projects, technical writer staffing, and training. Since 1993 in San Marcos, CA, TSI has provided writers and editors to the high-tech community who produce printed documents, online Help, and Internet documentation.

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