ASTC Conference 2021

Day 3 – Wednesday 14 October

1.00 to 5.00 pm AEDT 

Handouts for Day 3 of the ASTC Conference. Videos of the presentations will be added to this page as soon as they are available. 

We'd also love your opinion on today's presentations. Simply fill in the Day 3 Feedback form after you've watched the presentations.

Connect with your profession.
Learn from your peers.

Thursday 14 October
1.00 to 2.00 pm

Why you may need Simplified Technical English in your toolkit

Dave Newdick

Simplified Technical English (STE) is the most widely used controlled language in the world. It started in the aviation industry in the early 80s, but it is now widely used by all branches of defence around the world. Other industries, not related to defence or aviation, have also started to use it. STE is also part of some software systems such as S1000D which is an international standard to produce technical publications in XML.

Dave will present an introduction to STE and how it might affect your role as a technical communicator. STE has a set of writing rules and a dictionary. But you need training, relevant to your role, to set it up and use it correctly and efficiently.

You will learn:

  • What STE is and is not

  • Why you should know about STE

  • What an example of STE looks like

  • How to start using STE.

About Dave

Dave has over 25 years of experience working as a technical communicator. Dave started his writing career supporting aircraft technical manuals in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He then ventured into the civilian world which exposed him to a variety of industries including manufacturing, technology, explosives, engineering, and mining.  His work includes developing documents and compliance systems to support technical and business documents, mainly relating to engineering, and workplace health and safety. He also works for several Australian businesses in the Australian (and global) defence industry.

In 2021, Dave started another new business (AusSTE) with his business partner (Julie Austin). AusSTE provides quality training and support for Simplified Technical English in the Australian region. Dave has completed accredited STE training through the Uninettuno University in Italy.

Thursday 14 October
2.30 to 3.15 pm

The freelancer's toolkit: a tour of project and business management software
Peter Riches

As communication professionals, we use a range of tools to improve the quality of the content we produce. But how do you work out what technology is best to manage your projects and run your own business?

Presenter Peter Riches will walk us through some of the software self-employed technical communicators can use in the execution of projects and administration of their business. He will walk through a range of apps for Mac and PC, as well as the online tools that his company, Red Pony, employs.


About Peter

Peter Riches is the owner and principal consultant for Red Pony, a technical writing and editing firm he established in 2006 to provide quality writing, editing and communications consultancy services to business and government. Peter harnesses technology to not only improve how he produces content for clients, but also to run his business more efficiently, effectively and flexibly. As a writer and editor, he has produced content for websites, social media platforms, tenders, proposals, reports and instructional documentation. Peter is also a skilled developer of Microsoft Office templates, having spent nearly 15 years producing customised Word and PowerPoint files for clients.

He is a well-respected advocate for the industry, presenting at numerous conferences and professional forums. Peter is a member of the Institute of Professional Editors (IPEd), the Australian Society for Technical Communication (ASTC) and the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP).

Thursday 14 October
3.30 to 4.05 pm

Paragraphs versus bullet points

Dr Marina Hurley

Both paragraphs and bullet points are important communication tools used for science and technical writing. However, incorrect and ad-hoc use of these tools can make life difficult for the reader. Dr Marina Hurley from Writing Clear Science presents clear guidelines to help you effectively design paragraphs and bullet-points and decide when to use them.

About Marina

Founder and Director of Writing Clear Science, Marina was an ecological scientist for over 20 years and now specialises in the teaching of scientific and evidence-based writing.

Marina has an exceptionally clear understanding of the link between thinking and writing and has developed her unique approach of teaching science and evidence-based writing into the Writing Clear Science Workshops.

Thursday 14 October
4.10 to 5.00 pm

Let’s talk about style!
Neil James

For more than a decade, Australian communication practitioners have clamoured for an update to the 2002 edition of the Style manual. Then in 2020, three major style references emerged:

  • Australian Government Style Manual

  • The Australian Style Guide™

  • Australian Manual of Style

Suddenly faced with the luxury of choice, which reference should technical communicators use?

Neil James of the Plain English Foundation will outline the features of the Australian Style Guide™ and why the Foundation decided to publish the style content it developed over the 2 decades of writing and editing style guides for government and corporate organisations. The ASG reflects Australian writing practice for both print and digital environments. It provides clear and practical advice with just enough explanation to understand a style rule, how it has evolved and why it might have changed. It has an attractive and easy-to-use interface. And it’s free.

About Neil

Neil is Executive Director and co-founder of Plain English Foundation based in Sydney. After careers in government and the media, Neil worked as a freelance writer and editor before specialising in plain English. He has a doctorate in English and published 2 books (Modern Manglish and Writing at Work) and more than 100 articles and essays on literature and language.

Neil is also active in plain language internationally. He was founding chair of the International Plain Language Federation that has developed a common definition and ISO standard for plain language, and he is the current chair of the Federation’s Certification Committee. Neil has also served as President of the Plain Language Association International and editor of the PLAIN journal. He was awarded PLAIN’s Christine Mowat Award in 2019.