Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

How do I learn HTML?

The answer is not “carefully,” my friend. Research has shown that learning from mistakes works better than playing it safe, as long as you’re not skydiving.

I’ve been meaning to learn HTML for a while–I’ve been blogging since 2006 and learned some basic tags (tags are to HTML as vocabulary is to language) but I never sat down and learned how HTML works. One of my friends wanted me to go through all the details but I quickly tired of that. I have found having a goal in mind (what do I want my website to be able to do?), muddling through on my own, and then talking to someone who knows the language well to be most effective.

My someone who knows HTML also gave me the tip to use Notepad++ rather than Notepad to create HTML files. Notepad++ numbers lines, color-codes elements, automatically indents, . . .; all of which makes code easier to follow. Plus, Notepad++ can still be downloaded for free!

How will I know when I’ve learned enough? Certification would be nice, but probably not necessary. has an HTML Quiz that will suffice.

HTML Dog is a nice step-by-step tutorial. Unfortunately, as of this writing, none of the articles or examples work.
The World Wide Web Consortium (the authority on HTML) has a bunch of stand-alone examples on specific tags and a place where you can play with bits of code.
If that doesn’t work for you and your learning style, you can try one of the links from these resources. offers a free online course on HTML where you get weekly emails and assignments.

Commonly used Keyboard Shortcuts:



I like playing in Paint.

Pronoun Reference

I’ll just put these here.

For my editing class, I’m working on an English lesson aimed at college freshmen about vague pronoun references and thought this (Paradigm Online Writing Assistant) explanation with examples would be useful.

Editing Marks

There are so many editing symbols, some I’ve forgotten and some new to me, that I’m having trouble keeping track of them all. I’ve been looking for some tables and these two images (Editing & Proofreading Marks from UC Boulder, Common Hard-copy Editing Symbols from Indiana University) look like they’ll do. My prof promises she’ll bring in a couple of guest speakers who will tell us which marks are most used.

Here we go: The Chicago Manual of Style Online Tools-Proofreading

Fall 2012 Course Schedule

This semester, I’m taking:

  • Orientation to Technical Communication (TC 101)
  • Visual Communication (TC 151)
  • Editing (TC 202)
  • Management and Organizational Behavior (MGT 330)
  • General Psychology
  • Fun with Poetry
  • Bicycle Mechanic
  • Early Morning Spinning

Why am I studying technical communication?

Studying technical communication feels like the right thing for me to do now. There are several things that draw me to the TC field. I hope to gain skills in speaking professionally, technical writing, and editing. Through the course of my studies, I hope to glean an overview of the career possibilities in the technical communication field, and I want to be able to visualize myself working in the field of technical communication.

When I was in high school, I thought about majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in technical communication. I chose chemical engineering because I was always good at math and science, enjoyed chemistry, and was interested in engineering. I considered technical communication because the topic of communication fascinates me and I like working with people who love learning. I didn’t get a minor in technical communication while I was completing my BS in chemical engineering because I wouldn’t have been able to finish in four years. I didn’t have enough room in my schedule because when I got to college I was undecided and took classes towards chemical engineering, chemistry, and environmental engineering to help me decide.

Though I have a BS in chemical engineering and have taught high school math and science, I still feel like I have a lot to learn. I consider speaking one of my weaknesses. I took Speech and Advanced Public Speaking because I felt nervous just introducing myself in Statics class (granted it was a class of about 80 students) when I was a college sophomore. My senior design professor complimented my speaking ability after my senior design presentation and I still feel as though I need more practice. I also seek to improve my technical writing and editing skills. The people with degrees in technical communication from NMT who I have worked on projects with have impressed me with their technical writing and editing skills.

I know a few people who have a BS in technical communication. Two of my friends wrote the proposal that helped get equipment for the new TC lab we New Mexico Tech students have access to today. One of them now works as a technical writer and support specialist for Indian Health Service. The other one was a documentation specialist at NRAO until her contract was up and is now seeking to use her amazing technical writing and editing abilities to find a job in Chicago. One of my friends is IT Director at the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman. Another one of my friends became a systems engineer at ShoreTel after studying information technology at RIT. I also know someone who went into graphics and web development.

Through observing the experience of friends, I know there is a lot I could possibly do in the field of technical communication. I have many interests and believe the skills I will learn in technical communication will provide many career options that would be a good fit for me.