This course, Graphics for Technical Writers, introduces you to the primary graphics-related tasks that technical writers often find themselves doing on the job. But don’t think for a moment that, as a result of this course, you’ll be able to function like a commercial or technical graphics artist. That level requires several years of study and some serious skills with software like AutoCAD, CorelDRAW, and Illustrator. Instead, the graphics work you are likely find yourself doing as a technical writer will involve tasks like the following: As mentioned on the schedulre page for this course, you are not required to use any specific set of graphics applications. While Photoshop, Illustrator, and Visio may still be the leading applications, others like Paint Shop Pro and CoreDRAW, offer some, the same, or even more functions. And then there is a host of freeware and shareware applications such as Gimp, GIMPshop, LView, Inkscape, Open Office Draw, SketchUp, and Dia, to name a few. Because it is difficult for any one individual to be proficient in all of these application and because this is a writing program, this course takes a somewhat different approach. Using whichever applications you prefer, you’ll do the recommended tasks and projects in the schedule. But you’ll also describe step by step, including screen captures, how you did these things. Your instructor will attempt to follow your instructions and give you feedback on the usability as well as the writing of those instructions. If you cannot figure out how to do a certain task in your chosen graphics application, your instructor will help. Let’s make some simple distinctions between various types of software that enable you to do things, at least in part, with graphics: Word-processing and desktop-publishing software. Right in your very own Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, Adobe FrameMaker, and others, you have enough graphics capability to do most of the tasks you’ll study in this course. Maybe using document-creation software like the preceding for graphics work is harder, but there’s a lot you can do. Graphics-editing software. An important type of graphics software enables you to edit graphics extensively, but scarcely draw a straight line. Applications like these include Adobe Photoshop and Jasc Paint Shop Pro. At the bare minimum, these tools enable you to change file format of graphics, crop and size graphics, and change characteristics such as contrast, brightness, hue, and saturation. For technical writers, Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro are the current favorites—these are tools that you are likely to encounter in job descriptions and on the job. Image Editing Software Reviews . This page at Web Developer’s Virtual Library provides reviews of and links to some of the top applications of this type. Graphics-creation tools. This last category includes software applications that enable you to create illustrations, either from scratch or from pieces of other graphics. Applications in this category include Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW, and AutoCAD. As a technical writer, you are not likely ever to be asked to draw a keyboard or some component inside a computer using one of these applications. You might be asked, however, to modify an existing illustration. You might have to pull out a layer and change the model number or reposition a set of fasteners. However, learning the full repertoire of techniques associated with these applications is way out of the scope of a technical writer’s work. So here are your choices, but not to obverwhelm you, the individual tasks and projects in this course will recommend which of these applications to use: Computer graphics as well as the field of graphic design in general is loaded with terminology that may be unfamiliar to you. However, only a subset of that terminology is essential for your graphics work as a technical writer: These terms and these tasks will be the focus of this course. If you use teach-yourself books or online tutorials, focus particularly on these terms and tasks. Unit evaluation: Use the unit evaluation form to give your opinions on the effectiveness of the study materials and organization of this unit. (This evaluation is strictly optional, strictly voluntary.) Source.