President’s Message

This fall will be a busy one for us. We’ll be unveiling a refreshed website optimized for mobile devices, as well as a new logo. Also we are anticipating a full schedule of events that you can read more about in this issue of SuperScript.

One of my main goals upon becoming president was to modernize our website and increase our accessibility. Since our website is the primary way people learn about us and access all that we offer, it made sense to invest the time and effort necessary to accommodate the shift in the way people use mobile devices to browse the web. This move will also align us closer with the West Coast and Toronto chapters.

The effort to redesign the website will take place over the summer, which is traditionally our slowest time. Once all the details are ironed out, we will launch the new website in early September, when everyone is back from summer holidays. Thanks in advance to our web developer, Kevin Nazareth!

As part of the website refresh, we also looked at a new logo. The current logo has served us well for almost 10 years. However, it has become dated and needs to be replaced. In an effort to leverage the creativity of our membership, the executive asked Martin Matyas to create the new logo, which will be unveiled as part of the website relaunch. Thanks Martin for creating a great logo that should serve us for many years!

I’m looking forward to attending Summit 2015. This year it’s held in Columbus, Ohio, and it’ll showcase the best and the brightest that the technical communications field has to offer. I can’t wait to take in all the great seminars and professional development opportunities. I’m also looking forward to reconnecting with many of the New Heights speakers that have visited us over the years. Though the best part about this adventure, is that I’ll be able to bring back all that I’ve learned to share with the executive.

Remember to register early for New Heights 2015! If you do so, you’ll be eligible to win the MadPak Suite from MadCap Software, our flagship sponsor.

We’re always on the lookout for volunteers, so check out the Volunteer Section at for a list of current opportunities.

Stay informed by checking us out on Twitter @STCAlberta, on LinkedIn at STC Alberta or online at

Have a great summer!

STC Alberta 2015 Fall Events

STC Alberta has a fall packed with great professional development events, which include:

  • On September 16th, we start with a presentation on Designing Information-Rich Solutions. Speaker Martin Stares will be offering some powerful perspectives from modern information architecture and user-centered design to help address these more complex situations with confidence and creativity. Come and learn more about this popular topic.
  • October 15th marks the debut of the STC Expert Series. The first installment will deal with Technical Communications and the Law. Lawyer Frank Sur, from the Gowlings law firm, will give a presentation on the minimum legal protections that technical communication contractors need to have in place, before opening the floor to questions. Get your legal questions answered.
  • October 22nd marks the return of New Heights, our premier educational event on the STC Alberta calendar. This year MadCap Software returns as our flagship sponsor. Geoff Hart will be giving a presentation on Information Design: Designing Documents that People Really Want to Read and Use. Register now for a chance to win the MadPak Suite from MadCap software.
  • November 18th marks the end of the event season with a Christmas Pub Night at Lot 102. Stop by for a drink and ease into the holiday season as you visit with friends and colleagues.

For more information on all our events, check out

New Heights

The New Heights annual workshop is STC Alberta’s premier educational event. This year it will be held on Friday, October 23rd at Innovate Calgary. Our presenter this year is Geoff Hart, an STC member from Montreal. In addition to Friday’s event, Geoff will also host a Thursday evening (Oct. 22) presentation on efficiency. The Friday (Oct. 23) workshop will be on information design. Geoff has given many presentations, including at STC’s Summit and WritersUA. At the 2005 STC conference, Geoff was rated in the top 5% of speakers. He became a STC Fellow in 2006. Geoff prefers interacting with students in person, rather than online, which will ensure a great New Heights workshop!

The workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. and will finish by 4:30 p.m. It includes breakfast (which starts at 8:00), lunch, and snacks at the breaks. Early-bird registration is now open. Members can register now for $275 and save $50 (non-members $400).

The WOW factor: If you register during the early-bird period, you will be entered to win the MadPak Suite, valued at about Cdn$2800, which was generously donated to us by our sponsor, MadCap Software!

What is in it for you or your employer if you attend this workshop?

  • This professional development opportunity has a very reasonable cost, especially compared to similar workshops, which are often out of town. In other words, you get the most for each training dollar.
  • The workshop is only a business day, therefore you only need one day off work and no travelling days are required.
  • You can manage your work with more professionalism and confidence while you continue to develop your technical communication skills.
  • This workshop will help you produce documents that people really want to read and use.
  • The workshop displays your commitment to continued learning in the field of technical communication.

Remember, as a professional development opportunity, this workshop is also tax deductible if you are self-employed!

Membership Update

Our Chapter membership currently sits at 103 members! We want to extend a very warm welcome to the new members that have joined us since January 2015 and also to our many returning members:

  • Angela Aivas (Calgary)
  • Shaheen Fallahi (Fort Saskatchewan)
  • Cary MacWilliams (Cochrane)
  • Karen McLellan (Calgary)
  • Vicky Moorman (Calgary)
  • Barabara Nafe (Calgary)
  • Joy Naughren (Calgary)
  • Andrew Newborn (Calgary)
  • Jason Roberts (Calgary)

STC Education Liaison Update

My name is Martin and my role at STC Alberta is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with post-secondary institutions that offer technical writing, information design, or technical communication courses. I’m hoping that new graduates will embrace the benefits of the STC membership. Every chance I get, I promote the programs and networking opportunities available to graduates and current students. I’m starting with Mount Royal University (MRU), where I graduated from with a communications degree in Information Design in 2013.

On April 15th, I represented the STC Alberta chapter at the Portfolio Showcase Event. Senior students from the Information Design program displayed the accumulation of four years of academic work during this evening event. Usually, professionals in the communications sector come out of the woodwork to scout for new talent, so portfolios have to be clean and professional. Some of the work looked really sharp as work samples were set into “mock ups” that presented it in photo-realistic scenarios. Employers like this technique because it helps them visualize what the graphic or writing sample will look like when in use.

In case you didn’t know, information design takes technical writing to amazing levels using the principles of graphic design, desktop publishing, and information architecture. It’s the first program of its kind in western Canada, starting in the fall of 2008 at MRU.

At the last Wine and Cheese night, two MRU students volunteered their time to show us their portfolios. Imagine being a young student presenting your work in front of well-seasoned professionals. It took a lot of guts and they pulled it off so well that we decided to host a program night about how to build your own portfolio. It’s your single most important self-marketing tool and our volunteer presenter, Patrick Brooks, showed us just how far you can go to make yourself stand out from the competition.

On November 27, 2014, I attended the Information Design students’ launch of CAKE Magazine. This 93-page academic publication represents the fruit of three months of work in the Document Production class led this year by Dr. Richard Erlendson. In small groups consisting of writers, graphic designers, event planners, publicists, and desktop publishers, the gestalt of the students’ talent was clearly demonstrated.

I was lucky enough to obtain an issue. Students wrote topics that include wayfinding, typography, legibility, and information overload, and how these issues manifest in modern digital and print communications.

It was a busy year at MRU and we invite you to check our Events page as we frequently promote MRU events. You might be surprised at what’s up and coming in communications.

The Future of Technical Writing

Advances in technology offer Technical Communicators a variety of available deliverables and platforms that release content in a meaningful manner for audiences. To clarify, audiences consume content through a variety of platforms such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, and so on. Whereas the available deliverables are no longer limited to printed materials such as job aides, cheat sheets, reference guides, manuals, and so on. It also include media enriched content through web, video, animation and so on.

So if Technical Communicators were staying on the leading edge of technology, in order to accurately document their work, now it is more important to be on top of technology. Content developers need to continuously learn technical skills, embrace changing toolsets, welcome collaboration, and be strategic about content development.

The infographic posted on Stuff Writers Like (×1382.jpg) describes, in my opinion, a very realistic view for the future of Technical Writing.

Summer Reading List

Looking for some books to add to your summer reading list? Check out some of the recommended books below:

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