Puget Sound STC meeting on terminology at Microsoft

PSC-STC logo The Puget Sound chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) invited me and a panel of Microsoft writers, editors, managers, and terminologists to present our view of terminology management best practices at their November meeting in Bellevue, WA.  I have been a member of STC for 20 plus years, during most of that time I was an editor or writer.  Now that I have been doing terminology work at Microsoft for nearly three years, I was excited to be able to share with my fellow STC members how I became engaged with terminology, first as a writer and now as a terminologist.

After giving a glimpse of my journey from technical editing and writing to terminology, I tried to did explain what I do as an English (source language) terminologist.  I touched on the main responsibilities of the Microsoft Language Excellence team and the basic workflow for extracting terms from the user interface or user assistance files and entering them into our multilingual database so that they can be used as a resource during localization.  The best practices that I focused on was 1) making sure that definitions are precise enough, 2) aligning concepts and terms where appropriate, and 3) planning terminology projects, especially allocating enough time for writers and editors to write and vet definitions.

Short presentations from the panelists outlined terminology management theory including concept-centered terminology, how UI text writers create and manage their terminologies, the resources used by user assistance writers, and the importance of posting, and pointing people to, terms with vetted definitions, be they in a simple spreadsheet or in a relational database. Unfortunately time was short, so we could just mention the Microsoft Language Portal.

I think there were about 60 attendees at the meeting, and about 30% said they were involved in some way with glossaries or terms or localization. But judging from what I could see during the meeting, the attendees were all very interested in what each of the panelists had to say about their experiences with terminology at Microsoft.

All in all, I think the presentation and discussion raised the awareness of terminology and got people to think about it in a different way.

Thanks goes to the Puget Sound STC volunteers who made the meeting possible. And also to our panelists: Lisa Andrews, Lola Jacobsen, Barbara Inge Karsch, Robin Lombard, and Jim Purcell.

Tia Johnson, English terminologist