Microsoft Writing Style Guide: A new guide for technical communication

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For technical writers and technical communicators, the Microsoft Manual of Style has been one of the main resources of style guidelines for writing about computers and technology. It was an essential manual for content developers, creators, journalists, communicators, and editors. After the 4th Edition was published in 2012, I thought for sure Microsoft would continue to release paper versions of this essential book.

In February 2018, Microsoft took the radical approach of publishing the next version of the guide as a free, web-based resource. Now branded the Microsoft Writing Style Guide, it brings Microsoft writing guidelines “up-to-date for 2018 and is an evolution of the Microsoft Manual of Style from 2012. The principles and guidelines in the guide are the same as those used by internal Microsoft writers, which allows consistent quality and style across all apps and content.”

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2017 Year in Review: MSDN Blogs & Speaking

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CC 2.0 image courtesy Jon DeCamp on Flickr

With the new year upon us, it’s always worthwhile to reflect on the previous year. Here are some statistics about my contributions to MSDN blogs and my speaking engagements.

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2017 Year in Review: WordPress

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CC 2.0 image courtesy Jonathan Keller on Flickr

With the new year upon us, it’s always worthwhile to reflect on the previous year. So, just like I did last year, I compiled a list of general stats about this WordPress blog from 2017:

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2016 Year in Review

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With the new year upon us, it’s always worthwhile to reflect on the previous year.

So, just like I did last year, I compiled a list of general stats about this blog from 2016:

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Microsoft TechNet and MSDN blog contributor

The month of February has been an interesting one. Over the past weeks I have been asked join two Microsoft-hosted blogs as a contributor.

WikiNinjaThe first is the TechNet Wiki Ninjas blog which is the “Official Blog of TechNet Wiki”. If you know me or have been reading this blog, you know that I am an active contributor to the TechNet Wiki. So, to be asked to join this blog is an honour. The blog helps people become more familiar with TechNet and it encourages them to submit articles to the communal library.

For my first blog article I contributed tips about image compression and it was posted on February 24, 2016: Wiki Life: Image compression in the TechNet Wiki.

MSDN_logoThe second blog site I have joined is the Azure Development Community. Whereas the Wiki Ninjas blog has been active for sometime, this blog is brand new. It was developed by Ed Price at Microsoft and its authors are a collection of Microsoft employees, MVPs, Partners, and Azure development experts who are interested in Azure.

My first post appeared February 25, 2016 and is an Azure Content Spotlight centered around Deployment Slots for Azure Web Apps.

Please check out both sites and the large amount of articles on each. While there, drop a comment or rate an article. The authors would be grateful.

2015 year in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 39,387 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 14 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Some other general stats:

  • 40 new posts published.
  • 31,950 visitors each having 1.23 page views per visit.
  • 204 pictures uploaded.
  • The busiest day of the year was April 27th with 511 views. The most popular post that day was Microsoft Azure Essentials free eBook series.
  • The top referring site of 2015 was Stackoverflow.com.
  • There were visitors from 174 countries. More than one third of all page views came from the United States, followed by India and the United Kingdom.

Top 5 posts written in 2015

These five posts, written in 2015, received the most traffic:

  1. Microsoft Azure Essentials free eBook series (April 2015)
  2. Azure PowerShell cmdlets version updates (May 2015)
  3. Custom Telemetry Events with TrackEvent in Microsoft Application Insights (June 2015)
  4. Using Microsoft Application Insights in an MVC application (April 2015)
  5. How to enable line numbers for C# in Visual Studio 2013 (July 2015)

Top 5 posts of all time

These 5 posts have received the most traffic overall:

  1. Export an ODBC Data Source from the registry (July 2012)
  2. Using Notepad++ to write C# code (March 2014)
  3. Extending PhoneGap for Visual Studio to Android devices (August 2012)
  4. PowerShell: Invoke-WebRequest and URL links (December 2014)
  5. Creating a developer’s blog (March 2012)

Write Once, Publish Anywhere

This article was also published on the Canadian Developer Connection blog under the title Write Once, Publish Anywhere.

Developers love to write code and a great many also like to write blog posts. However, it can be hard to find time to publish blog articles and to keep your site updated. I want to use this space to share an idea that I have been trying recently to motivate myself to put out more content.

I have often said that every developer needs a developer’s blog. As Scott Hanselman eloquently states, Your Blog is The Engine of Community. The benefits of having your own site can be immense:

  • It is a place where you can share your opinions on technology.
  • You can showcase your skills and display your side projects.
  • Demonstrates that you can learn on your own time and that you are abreast of current technologies.
  • That you care about the developer community and you want to give back.
  • All of your posts are searchable and your work is easily accessible to future employers.
  • It shows that you can communicate your thoughts in a professional manner.
  • Serves as a portal to all your social media profiles.

I have been blogging more lately and I have recently adopted the theory of “write once, publish anywhere”. Based on the developer’s axiom of “write once, run anywhere”, it is the idea of producing one item but being able to use it at least two times. Another analogy that I can relate it to is simulcasting in TV. The television episode is created once and then it is distributed to multiple TV stations.

My blogging activities are trying to replicate this philosophy as I want to reuse my articles in several places. First I look for third-party sites that I can submit to initially. Once it appears on the site I then take the same piece and re-blog it to my own site several days later. This way I create content for two sites. I get the benefit of my work being listed on another’s site, RSS feeds, Twitter announcements, etc. and they get fresh material for their pages. As well, I am still providing new content to my own blog.

The nice thing is as .NET developers and Microsoft technologists there are a lot of places where you can contribute articles. The following links are sites you can use to post content to:

In addition, if you search for the term “Write for us” (in quotes) combined with the topic you wish to talk about you will generally find a blog or magazine looking for submissions. Granted, you do not want to author for just anyone so vet the site first. Read a few excerpts and see if the items are of value.

If none of the links above appeal to you then reach out to your favourite website or blogger and ask if they accept guest pieces. They just might surprise you and say yes. Then, once you have found the one you want — go for it! Work with the editors to get it just right for their audience. Even if your content is rejected in the end you will still have a post you can use on your own site.

Do you know of other sites that accept Microsoft-based articles? If so, feel free to add them in the comments!