Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Publication guidelines – sample mission, goals and outline

April 30, 2010

Sample mission and goals

Below are the mission and goals, as well as a sample outline, for an online sales training and reference project I developed for NuStep, Inc. in 2007-2008. These were included in the publication guidelines I wrote to help guide and develop the project.

Many of the goals are quoted or adapted from Jean Hollis Weber’s excellent Technical Editors’ Eyrie, which offers excellent resources. One of the key resources I found most helpful is an overview on planning an online help project.

Feel free to borrow from this outline. My goal is to help writers and editors, as I’ve been helped by many others.

If you do use the information, please also link to or refer to my website,


“Make the online guide easy to read and use.”


  • To make the online guide consistent and easy to navigate, read and understand
  • To make the job of its editors, writers and other contributors easier by providing a reference source
  • To inform new writers and editors of existing style and presentation decisions and solutions
  • To improve consistency within and among documents, especially when more than one writer is involved or when a document will be translated
  • To remove the need to reinvent the wheel for every new project, and document who contributed what to help future contributors
  • Establish standard style guidelines to make the user/reader’s experience easy and clear
  • Document and explain the use of standard styles and formatting in the template
  • To remind the writer of style decisions for each project, when one writer works on several projects that have different style requirements
  • To serve as part of the specifications for the deliverables, in the event this project is outsourced
  • To define which style issues are negotiable and which are not
  • To help with new users of [your software] and those unfamiliar with help authoring tools or web design applications in general
  • To help plan, organize and schedule the work involved in producing and updating the guide
  • To introduce usability testing to those unfamiliar it

Sample Outline for Publication Guidelines

1) How to produce an online training & reference guide

a) Mission & goals

b)    Publication guidelines outline

2) Planning guide

a) To do list

b) Tracking documents

3) Contributors’ guidelines

a) Social rules for creating a style guide

b) Editorial conventions

c) English usage

d) Ways to present information – best practices

e)    Research – talk first to potential readers and technical (subject matter) experts

4) Editorial style and conventions

5) Formatting standards

6) Build and maintain the guide

a) Software – Doc-To-Help

b) Get started with the software

c) Help and support resources

d) About the template

i) Template purpose

ii) Find the template

iii) Apply template

e) Back up the template

f) Contribute to the guide

i) Writing & editing process

ii) Track progress

g) Build the guide

i) General instructions

h) Provide access to the guide

i) Maintain the guide

i) Update the guide

ii) Maintain the publication guidelines

j) Back up the guide

7) Reference sources

a) Reference sources

i) Style guides

ii) Dictionaries

(a) English

(b) Medical/technical

(c) Other languages

iii) Thesauri

iv) Encyclopedias

v) Quotations

b) Online non-reference resources

i) Email lists, discussion groups

ii) Technical websites and other resources

(a) Freeware & shareware software download sites

8 ) Website usability testing

9) Whodunit – publication principals and contributors

10) Technical notes and procedures

a) Procedures and emailed help from software support

11) Glossary


How can I help improve your communications?

September 13, 2009

I can serve your business by providing communications services with the following benefits:

Save you money

  • Develop, write, edit and manage publications to effectively communicate to your audiences–employees, customers, suppliers
  • Use simple, clear language to improve marketing, technical, web, training and other communications
  • Use single sourcing, wikis, blogs and other technologies to streamline communications and gain more customers
  • Help employees better understand training and technical documents
  • Save your company employee training costs and downtime
  • Analyze and organize your overall communication strategy

Boost sales and profits

  • Turn more website visitors into paying customers
  • Help customers clearly understand how your services and products benefit them by simplifying marketing copy
  • Boost web traffic by optimizing copy for search engines
  • Use company blogs to put you at the top of Google searches

Improve your business image

  • Drive customers to a website that “speaks their language”
  • Reflect your business professionally
  • Coordinate your communications with styles that fit within your brand guidelines

Increase customer & employee satisfaction

  • Improve readability of training materials and documentation
  • Improve website readability
  • Clarify and simplify technical terms
  • Improve marketing collateral readability

Encourage innovation with new ways to communicate

  • Build online help, wikis, blogs and other modern communication methods that cut costs, leverage and retain employee knowledge and speed up comprehension and access to information
  • Develop cost-saving knowledge bases by researching and documenting the company’s employee “knowlege bank”

Contact me

Ready to go? Want to find out more about how I can help?

Email me at tim -dot- mantyla – at – gmail – dot – com


Creativity relies on many mental abilities

June 22, 2009

The more I think about creativity, the more it looks like my ideas about creativity have been stereotyped and limited.

For one thing, creativity doesn’t work all by itself. No mental ability works in a bubble, though we may think of them that way to more easily make sense of them.

For example, how could someone create anything without a vast reserve of memories to draw on? That’s not to mention visualization or imagination abilities. You have to be able to choose what to create, and those choices require memories of similar things to the thing being created.

And visualization itself requires memory. How could you make a mental picture of something unless you had a reservoir of many things and how they appear?

Painters who create a new work make choices about how it looks. They pull up memories of colors and how they look when mixed, the effects of various sizes and types of brushes and the way something looks on various media. Other skills include planning, organizing and the ability to focus on one subject for a long period of time.

Translating visual, verbal, aural or tactile ideas into physical media, as all artists do, requires a whole set of mental abilities to control body movement.

The abilities to control our bodies can be finely honed with practice, but we learn them automatically when we are children–without any memory of how it happened.

Have you ever tried to feel or analyze how your hand and arm move to pick up a glass? I can’t do it. It’s an invisible process that I have no access to. Bodily control is so essential to our lives that we don’t have ways to mentally interrupt or analyze it. We “will” the movement, and presto! We move!

It’s really quite magical and invisible–yet we all make myriad intricate movements every day. It’s so integrated into our ability to function that we take it for granted.

Another example: how could someone create a product without analytical skills, like those used to determine the usefulness of the product? When Gideo Sundback designed the zipper in 1913, the inventor/engineer must have first systematically compared and evaluated other clothing fasteners, then decided that something else could work better. In fact, he improved upon a zipper-like design called a “clasp locker.”

This creative act also required memory, critical reasoning, design skills, evaluative abilities and other skills. Emotions, including frustration over the limitations of buttons and hooks, could have driven the inventor’s desire to create the zipper.

When someone does something “creative,” it’s not only creative. It could be analytical as well. A creative act may require intuition, evaluation, comparison, critical reasoning, memory, visualization, or any other mental function alone or in combination with others.

The other thing I’ve noticed about mental activity is that it’s often hard to separate one activity from another, because they work so well together. Clearly they are separate skills, but the mind or brain’s abilities work together seamlessly–so effortlessly and rapidly, in fact–that we can’t possibly analyze every process that’s going on at the time it’s happening. (Well, I have to speak for myself on this. Maybe Stephen Hawking could do it.) Retrospection is neccessary to figure out what we’ve been doing during retrospection!

These observations bring up a question that has dogged humanity since recorded history: What could have created something as complex as the human mind?

It also brings up a question that confounds researchers and has created entire branches of philosophy: How could such amazing abilities be housed in something as small as the brain?

I don’t have answers, but Emerson Pugh, an influential IBM executive, captured the essence of the problem with a humorous twist:

If the human mind was simple enough to understand, we’d be too simple to understand it.


What is creativity, and how can you tap into it?

June 26, 2008

A hip pocket definition: creativity is putting two things together that you haven’t put together before 

How about garlic mustard ice cream? Not the tastiest snack in the world—at least, to Americans—but the idea might make a kid laugh! That’s an example of creativity. In the world of snacks, this idea may be useless or counterproductive.

But in the world of children’s entertainment, putting two polar opposite foods together is fun and may turn out to be profitable for someone, someday.  Try lemon ice silicone spray. Or pillbugs soaked in perfume, rinsed in a rusty bucket and coated with chicken soup glaze. Eeewwww….but that’s the point.

One of the best explanations of creative thinking I’ve ever read:

Introduction to Creative Thinking by Robert Harris. Read it to find out how creativity = an ability + an attitude + a process.


Business needs creativity

One of the most vital needs in business, in nonprofits and in education is creativity. Reports in the New York Times, business publications and books all speak about the need to help everyone learn to tap their creative potential.


 Resources on the need for creativity

 Click for 21st century creativity and innovation skills resources.

 Click for 21st century communication and collaboration resources.

 Click for critical thinking and creativity resources, on Bloom’s taxonomy:  

Benjamin Bloom (1956) developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior in learning. This taxonomy contained three overlapping domains: the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Within the cognitive domain, he identified six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These domains and levels are still useful today as you develop the critical thinking skills of your students.                                         #                  #                  #