New Heights 2015 – Designing Documents That People Really Want to Read and Use



newheightsNew Heights 2015 will be held the evening of October 22 and all day October 23. This year’s presenter will be Geoff Hart. His presentation is called “Information Design: Designing Documents That People Really Want to Read and Use.”

Designing Documents that People Really Read and Use

Words are great things and we’d all have to find honest work without them.

Figuring which words we need to use isn’t so hard. But how do we clarify the difference between carmine and crimson? How do we specify the location of the 200 pixels that we want someone to click or tap midway through a procedure? Sometimes you really need an image. Warning: Some graphic language.

Pictures are lovely to look at, though not always easy to create. Also, it is not so simple to get people to look at the parts we want them to look at.

Sometimes a technical communicator just has to resort to words… or (here’s a thought!) combine them!

About the Presenter

Geoff Hart has reputedly been telling tales (sometimes ending up in considerable trouble thereby) since he was 6, but he took nearly 25 years to realize that he could earn a living at this trade. Since 1987, he’s worked as a technical writer and scientific editor for IBM, the Canadian Forest Service, and the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada. Geoff specializes in authors who have English as a second language. He also does technical writing and French translation.

Since 2004, he’s been a freelancer (and only occasionally stops complaining about his boss). He claims to have survived at least two bouts of leading or managing publications groups with only a minor need for ongoing therapy. He has published over 400 non-fiction articles on communication, as well as the books Effective Onscreen Editing and Writing for Science Journals.

Geoff is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication ( He says that he spends an altogether unreasonable amount of time mentoring colleagues. His training is in plant ecology and plant physiology, which continue to fascinate him. In his spare time, he has committed three science fictional novels and a short story collection. Visit him online at

Preliminary Details

Date: Friday, October 23, 2015
Location: Innovate Calgary (formerly  CTI), 3553 – 31 Street NW, Calgary (Alastair Ross Technology Centre) (map)
Time: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


Early Bird registration is now open! Register for our New Heights workshop now for the Early Bird rate! Our rate is well below comparable daily workshop fees.

Early Bird Rate: $275* for STC and affiliate members; $400 for non-members

* If you live more than 50 km from Calgary, please pay the full fee and email the Treasurer for $50 reimbursement.

** If you are an STC Student Member, please pay the full fee and email the Treasurer for a $50 rebate.

Register for Event

Past New Heights Workshops

  • New Heights 2014 – “Getting Your Small Business Started” Presenter: Katherine (Kit) Brown-Hoekstra.
  • New Heights 2013 –  “Goal-directed Audience Analysis: Who’s Using your Content?” Presenter: Judith L. Glick-Smith.
  • New Heights 2012 – “New Heights: “Modern Editing: Improving Product Quality.” Presenter: Linda Oestreich.
  • New Heights 2011 – “The Treasure and the Hunt: Content as an Extension of User Experience.” Presenter: Rahel Anne Bailie.
  • New Heights 2010 – “Instructional Design.” Presenter: Bernard Aschwanden.
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STC Alberta Pub Night

Join us for our annual fall pub night at Lot 102. Catch up after a busy season, enjoy drinks, appetizers, and each other’s company.

Program Details

  • Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2015
  • Time: 6:30 to close
  • Location: Lot 102, 102 10 St NW, Calgary (map)
  • Cost: TBD
  • Registration: TBD
  • Contact:

For more information about Lot 102, check out their website here.

Additional details on cost and registration to come.

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The Summer Edition of SuperScript is Here!

Hello everyone! The latest edition of SuperScript is now available. In this issue:

  • President’s Message – Chapter President Mitch Willis outlines the plans for the upcoming website redesign and what he’s expecting at Summit 2015.
  • Fall Events – Update your calendar with the schedule of fall events.
  • 2015 New Heights – Stay current on the news about what you can expect at see at New Heights in October.
  • Membership Update –The chapter currently has 103 members and has welcomed nine new ones since January 2015!
  • STC Education Liaison Update – Chapter Education Liaison Martin Matyas provides a review as the school year winds down of the Chapter’s post-secondary education outreach initiatives.
  • The Future of Technical Writing – The SuperScript team offer up a thoughtful article and infographic on the possible future of technical communication.
  • Summer Reading List – The SuperScript team has thoughtfully put together a great reading list of recommended technical communication books to keep you throughout the summer.

Comments welcome to the Newsletter Editor.

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STC Expert Series #1 — Technical Communicators and the Law

STC Alberta is proud to present the first installment of the Expert Series. Do you have questions about the relationship between technical communications and the law in Alberta? Frank Sur, corporate lawyer and partner with Gowlings law firm, will be speaking on the minimum legal protections you need to have in place as a technical communicator and then opening the floor to questions.

The event is scheduled for October 15, 2015 at 7:00 p.m at Innovate Calgary, 3553 – 31st Street NW. Mark your calendars!

More information to come.

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Designing Information-Rich Solutions

Many people can put together a website of a few pages or applications with a few function points, but they need guiding principles when asked to tackle solutions with hundreds of pages or dozens of function points and which function in a larger information ecosystem.

About the Presentation:

This presentation demonstrates some powerful perspectives from modern information architecture and user-centered design to help address these more complex situations with confidence and creativity.

The topics are:

  • Understanding Information
    • Information has an underlying structure as well as a surface realization.
    • We can learn to work with the underlying structure as a design tool.
  • Understanding Users
    • Users have goals and strategies.
    • We can learn to work with user goals and strategies as a design tool.
  • Understanding Interplay
    • We can learn how user considerations shape information structure.
    • We can learn how information structure shapes user experience.


Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30pm)
Location: Innovate Calgary, 3553 – 31st Street NW (large boardroom) (map)
Cost: TBD
Registration: TBA

About our Speaker:

Martin Stares is a solutions consultant with more than 30 years’ experience in delivering information-rich collaborative solutions characterized by a judicious blend of information architecture, user considerations, and interaction design. Solutions types include intranets, portals, mobile solutions, web content management, and a large portfolio of custom designed web applications.

Currently, Martin is blogging and teaching (sometimes consulting) on these topics, under the name The Information Artichoke.

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MadCap Software to Sponsor New Heights!

MadCapLogo-250x250-Edited-2STC Alberta is pleased to announce MadCap Software, Inc. as the flagship sponsor of the 2015 edition of its New Heights event in October. MadCap has generously donated a copy of the MadPak Suite to us for this event. Everyone who is an Early Bird registrant will be eligible to win this prize. The Early Bird rate ends on September 30.

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Essential Accounting Services

Essential Accounting Services specializes in small business accounting and bookkeeping services. In addition to corporate taxes, they also do personal taxes. They will manage all of your accounting, so you can focus on your business.

Email or call Helen today

cell: (403) 826-0659

(403) 249-6693

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The Spring Edition of SuperScript is Here!

Hello everyone! The latest edition of SuperScript is now available. In this issue:

  • President’s Message – Chapter President Mitch Willis updates us on what’s been going on in the Chapter recently and what’s coming up next for STC Alberta.
  • Edmonton Director Opportunity – Are you interested in being the Edmonton Director? Check out this article to learn all about this great opportunity!
  • Looking for an Intern? – Lynn Dittmer, Work Experience Coordinator from Mount Royal University provides details about how you can get in touch with qualified interns.
  • Just Say Yes – Kris McBride provides some great advice on what just saying “yes” can do for your career.
  • Realizing a Calling – Ozair Khan shares his experience on what brought him to realize his professional calling.
  • 2015 Salary Survey – After a few years, STC Alberta is again conducting a salary survey. To get the most comprehensive results, it’s important to get as many of our members involved as possible! Please make sure you check out this article for more about the salary survey.
  • 2015 New Heights – Check out this article to find out about the upcoming New Heights event.
  • Upcoming Programs – Check out this article to learn about what STC Alberta has planned for the next few months.

Comments welcome to the Newsletter Editor.

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Portfolios – Apr 23

Your portfolio is a marketing tool that can land you that next contract or employment opportunity. It shows prospective employers the scope and depth of your talents. Learn the tips, tricks, and traps for making a professional portfolio from one of the best in the industry, Patrick Brooks. He’ll also share common “portfolio bloopers” that can make a recruiter cringe, and some of the tips that will make them see your full potential. Join STC Alberta for this program to get the edge on the competition.


Date: Thursday, April 23, 2015
Time: 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. (doors open at 6:30pm)
Location: Innovate Calgary, 3553 – 31st Street NW (large boardroom) (map)
Cost: STC members $15, non-members $30, non-member students $15

Registration is now closed.

About our Speaker

Patrick Brooks has been in communications ever since he worked the graveyard shift at the local radio station in his hometown. He switched to visual communications a few years later, graduating from the Alberta College of Art with a diploma in commercial art. With this credential in hand, he has held art director and senior designer positions at Adobe, Tourism Calgary, Canadian Airlines, Air Canada, several agencies with a bit of freelance throw in for good measure.

In 2003, he obtained a Bachelor of Design degree and began teaching information design at Mount Royal College. He later upgraded to a Master of Arts degree in order to satisfy the minimum credential needed to continue teaching when the college obtained university status. In 2013, he taught the information design portfolio class, leading 26 students in producing their first portfolios, highlighting the best work of four years of academic effort.

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Technical Communicator

Restricted to STC members only. Enter password

Position Overview:

As we continue to grow we seek a creative and self-motivated Technical Communicator to join our User Experience team. This is a new full time position that will be part of the Product Development Group in Calgary.

Come work with us in an exciting multidisciplinary, fast-paced work environment. Your contribution can make a difference to the satisfaction of our customers and the success of our company. Join us as we invent the future of connected safety applications.

Key Responsibilities:

In this role you will be responsible for the creation of technical communications, information design, and content delivery systems. The goal is to provide value through a rich user experience that introduces, instructs and engages users on an ongoing basis.


We seek a broad range of skills that include:

Proficiency with the Adobe Suite of content creation tools

The ability to gather, distill and present technical data across a multitude of mediums

Experience with real time dash board design

Strong writing skills, including the ability to write concise, creative, and effective instruction

Familiar with modern multimedia content delivery and presentation tools as well as traditional print technologies.

Instructional design

Content management

Technical Communication degree or equivalent

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MRU 2015 Information Design Portfolio Showcase Event – Apr 15

Mount Royal University’s Bachelor of Communication – Information Design graduating class of 2015 looks forward to seeing you at their Portfolio Showcase event. Students will display a variety of projects they have developed through their degree program. We hope to see you there.

Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Location: Festival Hall in Inglewood, 1215 – 10th Avenue SE (map)
Cost: Free

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