I guess I would run out and by a copy of “Technical Writing for Dummies” or something similar.
But it always makes me nervous when people are applying for a job in a certain field and have to ask what that field is and what it entails.
But the flip side of that coin is that TW is one of those jobs that often people study at the university but is also sometimes a job that people kind of fall into. Sometimes a company just needs a TW and says, “Hey, Carl, we need someone to write up these specs. You write well, why don’t you give it a go.” And Carl becomes the TW guy and gradually builds up skill and knowledge.
When I talked about “standards of document formatting” I don’t mean that there is one standard format, but that there are standard ideas. Maybe “principles” would have been a better word. Things like knowing what margins and gutters are, how tabbing works, what a hanging line is, what drop case is, how different fonts are used for different items, what should be italicized, what should be bold, how to deal with orphans. Having delved deep itno a good word processor would expose these things. Working with a DTP would be even better.
But it also depends on what type of TW you’re doing. The little that I did was for documents. Owel mentions another side of it, writing for the internet, which can be a very different world. Yes, I would expect they use XML (or something similar) so the software can easily load your comments. The comments can changed without having to change the code.