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DOCUMENTATION For most software companies, creating documentation is a process that ultimately involves a small army of specialists--including writers, editors, designers, illustrators, typesetters, and layout artists--many of whom work as independent contractors or a on a free-lance basis.

We asked our survey respondents to indicate whether they used in-house staff or outside contractors for various documentation-related functions for their most popular title; and to indicate the hourly rate they paid any outside contractors. The results suggest that companies typically prefer to keep their writing and editing functions in the hands of in-house staff, but are more willing to retain outside specialists for various graphical and design tasks. The hourly rates paid to all outsiders tend to fall within a fairly narrow range of about $25-$50/hour. Designers and illustrators are the highest paid specialists (median, $40/hour); typesetters are the lowest paid (median, $25/hour).

Our survey data also documented the fact that desktop publishing and laser printers have taken over decisively as the leading method for the typesetting of documentation. Overall, 65% of our respondents said they relied on a laser printer to produce the manual for their most popular title, while 31% used phototypesetting equipment and 4% used letter-quality printers. When we compared this data against product prices, we expected to see that companies would generally rely on phototypesetting for their more expensive titles. Surprisingly, however, product price had virtually no effect on the choice of output device:

Finally, we asked respondents how much they actually paid (exclusive of printing) to create the manual for their most popular title. Responses ranged all the way from $100 to $150,000, but half of our respondents reported that they were able to produce their documentation for a price between $2,000 and $15,000.
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:results of software manufacturing survey
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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