Volume 43, Issue 2

November 2003


Features

Developing Commitment and Motivation

by Suzanna Laurent, STC Second Vice President, and STC Associate Fellow

Developing a stronger commitment and the motivation to do more helps you to become more valuable in the marketplace and on a team.

Have you ever wondered how to help yourself and others build the commitment and motivation needed for a particular project? Successful managers know that they must understand what people want to get from their work before they can help them build these important traits.

Victor Vroom came up with his Expectancy Theory some time ago, and it is critical to understanding worker satisfaction and motivation. It is mainstream psychology—simple, practical, and effective! This theory explains that when people are given choices, they choose the option that promises to give them the greatest reward.

Of course, as we all know, what constitutes a reward for one person can be quite different for someone else. So, if people are motivated by their needs, finding out what their needs are and placing them in positions that fill those needs creates a win-win relationship.

These steps toward greater motivation are based on the Expectancy Theory, and when used properly they can help you to stimulate others to perform well.

Tell people what you expect them to do! This should be done on a regular basis, not just at the beginning of a project. Clearly explain what the vision of the organization is, where you are going, and what you want to accomplish. Be as specific as possible and share common goals with them. Explain the standards of performance you expect. Effective communication inspires people to volunteer.

Make the work valuable. When possible, assign work that people like to do. Give them work they can do (or learn to do) well and that helps them achieve their goals. This is work that they consider of value to themselves and others.

Make the work "doable." This increases the people's confidence that they can do what you expect. You may have to provide training, coaching, mentoring, listening, or resources to enable them to perform the work well. And remember that the attitudes a manager has toward subordinates can affect the work they do.

Invite people to come to you with any concerns they have after they begin work. Tell them "if you like it, tell others; if you don't, tell me." Listen for feedback from people as new information or changes are shared.

When change is necessary, involve people in the decisions that affect them if at all possible. This makes them a part of the change process and rewards them for positive contributions.

Give feedback! Tell people how well they are doing. Positive feedback inspires them to continue to do well. Negative feedback explains their mistakes and then asks them to correct the mistakes and learn.

Reward successful performance along the way. Rewards don't necessarily have to be monetary; they include recognition, more responsibility, or a promotion to new duties.

By developing a stronger commitment and the motivation to become all you can be, you can be of more value to yourself and others as well!


The Fine Art of Copyediting

A Book Review

by Jeff Staples, Information Developer, Kitba Consulting, STC Houston Webmaster

Elsie Myers Stainton. 2002. 2nd and revised ed. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. [ISBN 0-231-12479-1. 153 pages, including index. $17.50 USD (softcover)]

The Fine Art of Copyediting is designed "to tell enough about the publishing business for a would-be copyeditor to understand what must be done to prepare a manuscript for publication and why" (p. 1). This second edition documents the updates that have occurred in publishing procedures and editing techniques during the ten years since the first edition. The text includes an updated, annotated bibliography, offering recommendations of items useful to the copyeditor (or any writer/editor) such as dictionaries, thesauri, and style guides. For the novice, the appendix offers some helpful items such as an example of edited text and a list of symbols for correcting copy.

Although focusing on the publishing world, the text offers useful information for any editor. The author offers "practical advice [and information] on how to achieve mutual trust and respect and how to resolve the personal problems that good incisive editing can create" (p. 1).

Stainton starts with the "basics" (Chapter 1). A copyeditor, like most editors, addresses someone else's words and strives to make those words literate and clear. Consequently, the editor's "own accomplishments are often counted by readers as belonging to the author" (p. 4).

"Legal and Contractual Aspects of Publishing" (Chapter 2) addresses questions of who is ultimately responsible for the text. Basically, the author and the publisher are responsible for the text, with the copyeditor serving as the publisher's representative. Stainton briefly covers elements of libel, indiscretion (bias), copyrights, and other contractual items such as titles, proofs, and AAs (author's alterations).

In "Types of Editing" (Chapter 3), Stainton reviews various types of materials that a copyeditor may confront and specific editing items in each type. For example, with a trade book, the editor typically needs to ensure readable text and to code the text for design. Working with professional books in a specific field, the editor must be familiar with usage in that field.

"The Editor's Dilemma" (Chapter 4) discusses an element critical to a copyeditor's success: personal relations. In addition to working with words in a text, the copyeditor will be "working with a human being who is revealing an important part of himself or herself to the public" (p. 26). Stainton briefly describes ways to handle personal relations, including expression of praise and appreciation.

"Editorial Procedures" (Chapter 5) covers various copyediting processes that all manuscripts go through. These processes include tasks done before you edit the content, such as coding of headings, footnotes, and special type; verifying that you have all parts of the manuscript; scanning headings and titles to get a feel for the material; and checking for front matter elements. You are then ready to tackle the content. Stainton takes you through the copyediting process and offers tips such as "In phrasing questions for the author, try to be brief and direct the author's attention to altering the text, not to answering questions" (p. 42). Stainton also provides a sample checklist for copyeditors.

Today, "Computer Technology" (Chapter 6) has revolutionized and affected most of the marketplace as it has publishing. However, when asked if technology had contributed to better quality in the writing, managing editors responded that authors were producing more but questioned whether the writing was better. Maybe technology can't make the writing better, but as this chapter conveys, it has introduced such benefits as clean copy and spelling and grammar checkers.

In "A Concise Manual of Writing Style for Copyeditors" (Chapter 7), Stainton advocates knowing the proper laws (such as guidelines for the effective use of language) and focusing "the author's attention on revising or adding or shifting parts if necessary to provide the satisfying punch of a proper whole" (p. 56). As with all writing and editing, knowing and focusing on the reader is paramount. Stainton covers areas of "defaults" that affect the reader's experience, such as avoiding ambiguity, using the right capitalization, and employing proper grammar and usage.

Stainton sums up the copyeditor as one with "an eye for details...an ear for prose...as well as a heart to aim for perfection" (pp. 74-75). "The Fine Art" (Chapter 8) addresses sentence structure, the effects of punctuation, and figures of speech. In addition, Stainton advises copyeditors to be alert to new words and changing usage.

Organizing and clarifying "Notes, References, and Bibliographies" (Chapter 9) can be drudgery, as Stainton readily admits. Yet she adds that editing these elements can be easier than editing text if you're consistent and brief.

"Special Editing Problems" (Chapter 10) addresses issues that you'll probably confront while performing your editing tasks. Stainton brings up such problems as faulty research, transliteration, and multiple authors, and offers possible solutions. She wittily confides, "With luck you seldom will have to assist an author who is a fool" (p. 100).

"Proofs and Indexes" (Chapter 11) have come into the digital age, but hard copy has not vanished. Stainton conveys the proofing and indexing processes performed in publishing houses. The process is similar (although more complex) to the process that an editor and a subject matter expert might experience, so many readers will find useful the information and the sample checklists.

"Job Satisfaction" (Chapter 12) is something we all hope to achieve. Stainton briefly discusses various growth opportunities for copyeditors, such as moving up to the level of managing or executive editor. As in other jobs, different people will find satisfaction in various ways. As a copyeditor, Stainton contends that for her "the most profound pleasure has come from the knowledge that I am participating to a small degree in the intellectual life of our times" (p. 119).

The book is an easy read and one that you will probably read or scan in specific chunks. Stainton combines the material with bits of humor, as when she states, "Yet many people, like the faithful, persevering mail carrier, are satisfied to make a career of it [copyediting] whether the going is rough or smooth" (p. 117). Well, maybe that quote wasn't intended as humor, but when I think of my mail carrier, who won't deliver the mail if a car is blocking the mail box (which would force him to get out of his vehicle), he doesn't seem to represent a satisfied worker!

However, you will be a satisfied user with the information obtained from Stainton's book. Even thought you might not be a copyeditor in a publishing house, the information that Stainton provides can be useful to any editor as well as to writers.

Regular Features

October Volunteers of the Month

Lisa Alvarado and Linda King

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

The STC Houston Administration Council is pleased to confer the title of Volunteer of the Month on Lisa Alvarado and Linda King for their work on the STC Houston Competitions.

What We Know About Lisa

Lisa Alvarado works with Aesbus.

Lisa volunteered to help with competitions toward the end of last year. Deborah Silvi forwarded her e-mails to Phaedra Cook, and the rest is history.

Lisa, exerting Herculean effort, secured the Snake River chapter as our trading partner for this year's competitions. She contacted at least a dozen other chapters, only to find that they aren't holding competitions, or that they don't want to trade with a partner as big as the Houston chapter.

Lisa also was in charge of competition communications.

Lisa developed the call for entries for this year's competitions. Then, she recruited Champagne Printing to print the call for entries at no charge.

What We Know About Linda

Linda King is a project manager at Hewlett Packard, where she spends many hours attending meetings and managing projects for the Industry Standard Servers group.

Linda's strengths are being able to review past information with an eye to the present, and approaching the competitions in a strategic manner. Linda is very organized. Her ability to plan well has endeared her to everyone.

Linda's competitions team consists of Lisa Alvarado, Pat Bishop, Lori Buffum, Jaleh Fiers, Mary Gwynne, Lisa Haberle Harlin, Deborah Long, Cindy Pao, and Jeff Staples.


November Volunteer of the Month

Jeff Staples

Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

STC Houston is pleased to name Jeff Staples as the Volunteer of the Month for November.

Thank you, Jeff, for your work as the chapter Webmaster.

Jeff, the Professional

Jeff holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Houston.

He started out as a systems engineer with British Petroleum and then moved into technical communication with Berger & Company.

Jeff has held technical and marketing communication positions at Berger & Company, BMC Software, BindView, and Kitba/Valley Forge.

Jeff, the STC Superhero

Jeff won the Distinguished Chapter Service Award in 1998. He also won a Distinguished SIG Service Award in 2003 for his outstanding work on the Quality SIG newsletter.

His long and impressive STC resume includes

Jeff has also helped STC Houston win the following awards:

Friends Weigh in About Jeff

"Jeff is a no-nonsense, get things done quickly and correctly, quick problem solver kind of guy. If he sees something that needs fixing... in this case, our chapter web site... he volunteers to help fix and then focuses his time and energy to get it completed."

"He can also get an amazing amount of work done in a short amount of time. He's incredibly efficient-just like his wit!"


Director-Sponsor Report

What Color Is Your Future Job: Commodity Writer or
Strategic Communicator?

by Rahel Anne Bailie, STC Director-Sponsor for Region 7

This month, I found myself in Portland, Oregon, for the STC Board of Directors meeting and the Willamette Valley's season kickoff meeting, which the chapter organized to coincide with the board meeting. The topic was the future of technical communication, a panel discussion that included a workforce analyst, two STC board members, and two local technical communicators who weathered the turndown in the economy and embody the characteristics of career survivors.

As context for the panel discussion, it happens to be that Oregon is the hardest hit state of all the U.S. Many software development jobs have been sent offshore, and the technical communication jobs that accompanied those jobs dried up, as well. Even in companies retaining their North American-based staff, the continual effort to trim "waste" continues to erode jobs in departments seen as cost centers.

Commodity writing is the type of technical communication characterized as the creation of formulaic documentation on demand, and is closely tied to writing code. Companies are increasingly comfortable outsourcing both of these tasks. Those jobs are being sent offshore, as evidenced by the surge in job openings on STC job boards in the Asia-Pacific countries.

Increasingly, the jobs that remain are for "strategic contributors," technical communicators who can be entrusted to look beyond the pages of their manuals, beyond the screens of documentation, beyond the department of documentation, and even beyond the GUI. These strategic contributors look at the product from a business point of view and ensure that they positively affect the bottom line through their contributions to the company's product. Their contribution may be content, user-centered design, or specific communications products, but the content arises from a perspective of problem-solving. The successful strategic contributor is recognized by management as a valuable part of the team, and may be part of the management team. (See Andrea Ames' presentation slides at www.stcwvc.org.)

What impressed me was a panelists who embodied the principles of strategic contribution. Sheila Reitz, a contractor for an Oregon power company, made a conscious choice to move from commodity work to strategic contribution. Using a performance-based résumé—coincidentally, I discuss these techniques in "Using a Résumé to Showcase Your Talents" in the September/October 2003 issue of Intercom—Reitz demonstrated her ability to contribute her analytical and communication skills to documenting workflow processes. As a result, her first phone call to user-test the new résumé format resulted in a landing a dream contract, when her tester exclaimed, "We need you!"

The landscape for technical communications has changed and will continue to change. Whether you are a technical communicator outside of North America who is benefiting from the windfall of technical writing jobs coming to your area or a technical communicator called upon to stretch your imagination, the quest is the same one posed by Dick Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?: Which of my skills fills the changing needs in the local market, and how can I market myself to meet those needs?


From the President

Competitions in Full Swing

by Jocelyn Williams, Independent Consultant

What activity combines skills enhancement with networking forums? STC competitions! On behalf of the Houston chapter, I want to thank everyone who has agreed to serve as a judge or committee member for this year's chapter competitions.

Local Competitions

STC Houston is proud to host its annual technical publications, technical art, and online communication competitions. We've formed a strong judging partnership with the Snake River (Idaho) chapter. We're working closely with STC Snake River to provide exciting competitions-complete with objective evaluations!

Positive Benefits

The professional-level competitions promote and recognize excellence and creativity in technical communication. In addition, the competitions help to:

All judges should plan to attend the November 8 judging workshop. The session will be at the Maud Marks Library, 1815 Westgreen Blvd in Katy, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. This is a great opportunity to meet other judges, receive information packets with instructions, and learn from the experiences of veteran judges. If you are undecided about making a commitment to competitions next year, please join us to learn more about what is involved.

Join the competitions committee as they plan our February Awards Banquet that recognizes the competitions winners, including the Distinguished winners whose entries go on to compete at the international level. To volunteer, contact Phaedra Cook, director of competitions (gecko@gecko-media.com) or Linda King, general competitions manager (linda.king@hp.com).

International-level Judging

In March 2004, Houston will be the site for the international-level competitions. The Society wants to engage members' wide ranges of experiences, so even if you have never judged before, you're encouraged to apply. For judging application information, go to www.stc.org. The application deadline is November 30.

With your involvement, the STC competitions will be a tremendous success!


From the Editor

About the STC Houston Forum

by Rebecca Taylor, Product Marketing Manager, Hewlett-Packard

This summer, the STC Houston web team implemented a brand-new online resource for the chapter: the STC Houston Forum. This new tool replaces the old Job Board, and Steve Shriver has been posting new job postings regularly. But the forum covers so much more than employment topics! Use this forum, instead of the chapter mailing list, to post questions about technical communication topics. Since this is a new tool for our chapter, I wanted to provide some background on what a forum is and some of its benefits.

Forum Primer

The STC Houston Forum is an online bulletin board. Think of it as a web version of a discussion e-mail list. Are you new to the lingo of a board? Here are a few terms and definitions:

Category—a group of forums that are related to a single theme. A category contains forums.

Forum—a focus subject within a category. A forum contains topics.

Topic—a specific subject within a forum. Also known as Threads. Think of a topic as the equivalent of what you would send to an e-mail discussion list. Topics contain posts.

Post—a submission or reply to a topic or thread.

Moderator—A board user who patrols the forums to ensure that other users are not violating the rules of the board.

Features of the Forum

The STC Houston Forum has some great features:

So what are you waiting for? Go visit the STC Houston Forum at forum.stc-houston.org!

To learn more about the STC Houston Forum, go to the Rules & Tips forum in the STC Houston Forum Info category. Or, you can click the FAQ link at the top of every Forum page.


A Logical Choice

by Gary Michael Smith, Publisher, Chatgris Press

I'm no mathematician. Far from it! I was lucky to get out of a single year of college algebra--and not on the first try. If mobsters mandated that I work with numbers to continue to breathe, I'd choose geometry.

Humble Beginnings

My focus in undergraduate school was threefold: English, journalism, and business administration. I did have a passing interest in the life sciences, excelling in plant and animal biology. And chemistry came fairly easily as well. But when it came to English, I was more passionate than a New Orleanian during Mardi Gras.

Although I respected the sciences, my propensity was for lexis. My first published piece appeared in my high school newspaper and detailed the dilemma of a missing utensil. That's right, "The Mystery of the Missing Bottom Half of the Double Boiler" was my right of passage--my entrée into the literati. Surely a candidate for StrangeFacts.com , this observational essay was the impetus for encouragement from one of my English teachers for my continued literary ramblings.

The creation of inane commentaries and exposés continued throughout college. But it was here that my art became focused.

Always appreciative of science but realizing that I didn't have a snowball's chance south of the Mason-Dixon to shine in this arena, I was intrigued by the one and only technical writing class at my university. But this didn't happen immediately.

I began my soirée among the learned immediately after high school, which in my case was a mistake. Having left the fringes of the Bible Belt of North Louisiana for the debauchery of the Banana Republic, I had grown as wild and riotous as the snakes in the bayous I hunted for their skins. Barely able to concentrate past where I was going to party after class, I rapidly fell out of favor with my professors.

To show them up, I resigned after only a semester and a half and began an illustrious career of climbing telephone poles, jolting around in jittery helicopters to distant oil rigs, and drifting aimlessly on tugboats and offshore supply ships in estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Second Chance

This calling lasted only about four years before I once again applied for school and was amazingly readmitted to the ranks of academia. Only this time I had more money stashed and more perseverance reserved. Again, the technical writing class in the catalog intrigued me, but sour memories persisted of my last experience.

Although I'd been an A/B student in high school English, the college tech writing teacher actually failed me on an assignment--something about spending as much time on it as I had spent combing my then shoulder-length-plus hair. But he was wrong: I'd actually spent less time on his particular project. However, he was the only professor teaching the course the semester I wanted it.

Willing to give him another chance I enrolled, and he sensed a renewed and sincere enthusiasm within me. He was fair, and I excelled and even volunteered.

I was a documentation machine, a scribe of monumental proportions, detailing with deft the operation of a ballpoint pen and attacking other assignments with equal vigor. Years later, I was even asked to speak to his class about the vocation of technical writing. Writing rather than science, a logical choice it was.

Today's World

Today, analyzing processes, developing procedures, and editing and rewriting what those with other technical talents have developed into tomes comprehensible to operators, field staff, and laypeople has become my raison d'être.

Moreover, the entire field of technical communication is growing exponentially so much that those entering the field now have a plethora of options--from penning software user manuals to designing assembly instructions--to the purest acts of developmental writing and copyediting.

Publishing houses and medical institutions are even advertising now for technical writers, in addition to the traditional copyeditors and medical writers. Such entities are recognizing the need for a highly trained skill base for the design, development, scheduling, and archiving of software.

It's a brave new world for our field today, limited only by our own dreams and desires.


Member Spotlight

STC Houston Members Contribute to Quality Newsletter Win

In the 2002-2003 STC Newsletter Competition, the STC Quality SIG newsletter, DocQment, received a Merit award. Congratulations to STC Houston members Jeff Staples and Rosie Walker, who serve as DocQment managing editor and copy editor.


Letters to the Editor

How We Found Technical Communication (or How It Found Us)

Editor's Note: In the April 2003 issue, my column related my experience in finding a career in technical communication. Here are the responses that a few readers were generous enough to send me. Thank you--sharing your experiences makes us all richer. See also our "From the Members" section where Gary Michael Smith relates his experiences in and visions for technical communication.

Ann Blankinship

I'm writing in response to Rebecca Taylor's article in the April newsletter entitled "From the Editor: Stroll down Memory Lane." Like Rebecca, I had little sense of good writing in high school or undergraduate school at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). I majored in zoology and never considered a career in writing.

I loved learning about science and still do, but by the time I earned a B.A. in zoology in 1970, I realized that I had no interest in a career in biology or zoology.

With college graduation looming and few career opportunities seemingly available, my father, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, advised me to visit graduate schools that interested me. Shy and lacking self-confidence, I procrastinated on this advice until my father became more insistent, telling me from his own experience that graduate schools routinely counsel prospective students. Finally, I made appointments with graduate advisors at the chemistry and math departments, where I found little encouragement.

My last appointment, at the journalism department, produced far different results. The department head, Dr. Ernest Sharpe, enthusiastically told me that my science degree was the perfect background for a career in science or technical writing. I had never heard of technical writing, and neither had my father. But the next fall, I enrolled in the journalism graduate school.

After I labored over several classroom writing assignments, which I enjoyed, my major professor, Dr. DeWitt Reddick, reassured me that I belonged in the graduate school. At the time, UT offered only one technical writing course, taught by Dr. John Walter. I well remember Dr. Walter's comments after reading one of my first assignments: "You can do this work. You can get a job as a technical writer." Those words changed my life. My father, Dr. Reddick, and Dr. Sharpe are gone now, but their persistence, enthusiasm, and encouragement live on in my life's work of almost 30 years in technical writing.

Donna Marcotte

I really enjoyed your article in Dateline Houston. I had similar experience. Though I have none of that early work, I know it was hideous. I HATED, HATED writing in high school. Struggled with it. Was terrible—a B-minus writer.

Then sometime later on, after some business experience and then finally getting to college, it also "clicked" for me. I could think more clearly, knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Of course, there are some things I still have to work at. I NEVER want to write another master's thesis and won't. But most other writing is now a pleasure—something I'm good at, something I enjoy.

Chapter News

November Program Meeting

Ethics in Communication

We offer you a special treat at our November program meeting. Wendy Buskop will focus on ethics in communication. As technical communicators we may develop material with copyrighted information, intellectual property, trademarks, Internet searches, technology transfer, web site copyrights, and agreements.

Wendy has extensive patent and copyright experience as a managing patent attorney for Buskop Law Group, P.C. Since drafting her first patent in 1980 she has worked on numerous cases in patent, trademark, copyright, and related matters for Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Wendy brings all this experience and expertise to our program. After introducing the topics, she will provide a discussion of actual or potential situations where we might find ourselves. It's important to understand these issues as we work with scientists and engineers who may not be familiar with patent, copyright, and intellectual property law. It's also good to know for our own protection.

Wendy has worked on a diverse number of patents and trademark cases. Here is a sample of the more interesting cases:

Place:

Hilton Houston Westchase
9999 Westheimer Road

Date:

Tuesday, November 11

Time:

5:30 p.m. networking (hors d'oeuvres)
6:20 p.m. announcements
6:30 p.m. program

Cost:

$10 (members)
$15 (nonmembers)
$ 5 (student and unemployed members)
$ 10 (student nonmembers)

Drawing:

A drawing for various prizes is held at the end of each general meeting. Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.


Employment Report

by Steve Shriver, Contract Technical Writer, Baker Hughes

Remember the story of the bum sleeping on a park bench? He was approached by a stranger who was curious about what he was thinking. To the great surprise of the stranger, the bum was upbeat and genuinely optimistic.

The bum went on to explain that he was a very successful businessman—in his own mind because he knew exactly what he needed to do to make it all happen. The story goes that this man who was temporarily down on his luck did, in fact, go on to achieve great success in acquiring his fortune.

If you are between contracts (or more accurately when you are between contracts), it always pays big dividends to maintain and protect a positive mental attitude. When you get down (and all human beings do) take proactive steps to stay positive. Here are some ideas that might help.

Positive Help

Take advantage of the outplacement and counseling services available to us all. If these services are not provided by your previous company, seek out help from state and local agencies, as well as church and community services. Help is available, and it's OK to ask for it. (It's a sign of weakness if you don't ask, contrary to popular belief.)

Employee assistance programs may still be available from an ex-employer, and provide specifically for career and job counseling. Many professional counseling services are available at no or low cost, and can provide just the tonic needed to get your attitude right and regain a realistic perspective. Just ask around. It's OK to ask.

Immerse yourself in good books, inspirational literature, audio tapes, and video programs. Turn off the network TV stuff; it's mindless and rarely serves your best interest. Visit your local used book store, and you might be surprised at all the helpful literature you can find, inexpensively.

My 27-year-old son recently read and recommended Rich Dad, Poor Dad to me. (He knows which category I fit in.) I'm old, with some good years left, so I figured maybe I could learn something, even at my advanced age. I have to confess I'm not relentless about books—I'm a good starter but rarely get past the first half before I lose momentum. Please read on, there is a solution.

Good Listening

The solution? I bought the book on tape and I've been listening in the car. How much time do I spend in the car, usually listening to the radio? Way too much. I've listened to these tapes about three times through so far. (I'm particularly dense.) And, I'm starting to get it—it's really got me thinking.

Check out any bookstore (and sometimes Wal-Mart), and you'll find dozens of choices for improving your attitude and your thinking. What's more, all these titles are available in hardback, paperback, cassette tape, audio CD, video tape, CD-ROM, you name it. There are even classes and seminars available on many popular and positive themes.

As the well-known advertisement states, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste." Take advantage of your between-contract time and invest in yourself. It will pay off big.

Society & Industry News

STC News

2003 National Salary Survey Available

STC's web site now includes this year's salary survey for technical writers and editors in the U.S. and Canada. This survey, one of STC's most popular publications, has been posted in PDF format on the members-only section of our web site. Please visit www.stc.org/salary.asp to see salary and benefit statistics broken down by geography, experience level, and other factors.

If you haven't yet been to the members-only section of the web site, please note that you'll need your STC member number and a password to enter. If you do not know your member number and password, go to www.stc.org for assistance.


Upcoming Society Events

February 27-28, 2004

The Atlanta chapter will hold its annual conference, Currents, at Mercer University in Atlanta. Topic stems include learning new skills and tools, contracting, satisfying users, education/professional development, and management. For more information, please contact:

Cheri Crider: ccrider@optiosoftware.com

www.stcatlanta.org

July 25-27, 2004

The Sacramento chapter will host the STC Region 8 Conference at the University of California, Davis. The conference will feature seminars, a regional leadership summit, and a trade show and career expo. For more information, please contact:

Eric Butow: ceo@butow.net

www.stcregion8conference.org


Dues Renewal Invoices to be Mailed Soon

In October, STC members received e-mail messages encouraging them to renew their memberships online at www.stc.org. Printed dues renewal invoices will be mailed in late November to those who do not renew online. For membership dues, STC accepts checks in U.S. dollars or Canadian equivalent and American Express, MasterCard, and VISA payments. Dues payments must be received by January 1, 2004. (A grace period extends to February 28, 2004.) Note that only members who have paid their dues by February 28, 2004, will be eligible to vote in STC elections this spring.

Two categories of members do not receive a dues renewal invoice in November: members who join STC on or after November 1, and sustaining organizations. Sustaining organizations are billed separately in July.

The rates for 2004 dues are as follows:

If you have any questions, please contact the membership department at membership@stc.org.


Society Membership at a Glance

As of September 30:

*Includes 34 student chapters

STC Houston Membership


STC's 51st Annual Conference Registration Rates

The STC 51st Annual Conference will be held in Baltimore May 9-12, 2004. Members can register for the conference by using the form provided in the preliminary program, which will be mailed with the February issue of Intercom, or online at www.stc.org. Online registration will open in mid-February.

Advance full-conference and one-day registration rates are as follows. The last day to register for the conference at the advance rate is April 23, 2004.


Educational Opportunities

Phone Seminars

Here is a list of STC telephone seminars scheduled for November 2003 through March 2004. Further details will be announced on the STC Web site at www.stc.org/seminars.asp.

December 10, 2003

January 14, 2004

January 28, 2004

February 11, 2004

February 26, 2004

March 10, 2004

March 24, 2004


Networking Opportunities

If you have a networking opportunity to share, please tell us! Go to www.stc-houston.org/contacteditor.htm.

Volume 43, Issue 2

November 2003