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Tools of the Trade

A Peek Inside the Toolbox
Core Tools for InfoDev Pros

Having the right tools is essential in any discipline. This list describes common core tools you can use to create stellar content for any project – content that informs, delights, and empowers.

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Tools of the Trade

Core Tools for InfoDev Pros: A Look Inside Our Toolbox


The tools you need for specific projects will vary depending on what organization you work for, the size of your organization, and the filed, genre, and industry you work in. For example, if you are a technical writer working in a large company, you may be using single-source authoring tools, or even proprietary tools owned by your organization.

The core tools we use across projects and in conjunction with more specialized tools include:

 

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Hardware

Dual Monitors


Dell SE2419Hx 23.8" IPS Full HD (19201080) Monitor

View on Amazon* 

$129.99
Notes

Having two monitors is absolutely indispensable for an InfoDev Pro! It boosts productivity immensely because it’s so much easier to work with multiple documents and programs at the same time. Even within the same program, you can often move all of your menus to one screen, leaving the other to provide a full, uncluttered display of your project.

I can't live without my dual monitors!

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Hardware

Docking Station


Targus Universal 2K Laptop Docking Station (DOCK120USZ)

View on Amazon* 

$81.97
Notes

If you have a laptop, then a docking station is a must, particularly if you use dual monitors. It allows you to connect multiple accessories, such as a printer, backup drive, speakers, and more.

I was able to use this docking station with almost no setup (aside from updating a driver), and I haven't even thought about it since!

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Hardware

Laptop


Asus Zenbook UX562 Series, Model Q536FD

View at Best Buy 

$1,549.99
Notes

These days, having a laptop is almost a must. This laptop provides great value and portability and meets the system requirements for most InfoDev tools (but be sure to double check system requirements for any software you plan on using.) Additional Details: 15.6" 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen, Intel Core i7, 16GB Memory, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, 2TB HDD, 256GB SSD

I love this little guy! Given the system specs, it's an incredible value.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Hardware

Wireless Keyboard and Mouse


HP Wireless Elite V2 Desktop

View on Amazon* 

$45.83
Notes

As an InfoDev Pro, you use your keyboard and mouse for hours each day. This is a premium quality set at a reasonable price.

I really like the full number pad, the travel of the keys, and the click feel, which is almost mechanical.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 60%
Software

Illustrator


Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps* 

$52.99/mo
Notes

Illustrator is our most-used Creative Cloud app. We use it for most imagery, particularly for images that contain text (such as graphs and diagrams). We also use it for branding, icons, color palettes, and more. Because you can create such large artboards, we even use it for brainstorming, planning, and project management (essentially using it as a digital whiteboard).

Adobe's Creative Cloud All Apps includes more than 20 apps and services, including all of the Adobe apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 70%
Importance: 90%
Software
Notes

InDesign is our go-to layout program. With InDesign, you can create professional page layouts that you just can't create in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word. InDesign includes advanced options for managing layers, multiple documents, paragraph and graphic styles, and much more.

Adobe's Creative Cloud All Apps includes more than 20 apps and services, including all of the Adobe apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 50%
Importance: 100%
Software

Photoshop


Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps* 

$52.99/mo
Notes

We use Photoshop solely for working with photographs – for cropping, adjusting resolution and size, etc. You can do amazing things with Photoshop, but it can be difficult to learn, and it's not recommended for imagery that contains text (because it's difficult to edit the text later).

Adobe's Creative Cloud All Apps includes more than 20 apps and services, including all of the Adobe apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 40%
Importance: 90%
Software

Acrobat Pro DC


Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps* 

$52.99/mo
Notes

Acrobat Pro is another InfoDev must-have. It's a vital tool in both preparing deliverables and in quality assurance and review. We use Acrobat throughout all stages of the information-development process, from delivering a project brief to final project delivery and approval.

Adobe's Creative Cloud All Apps includes more than 20 apps and services, including all of the Adobe apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 90%
Importance: 100%
Software

Word


Office 365 Business Premium

$12.50/user/mo
Notes

Word is so ubiquitous that, like it or not, you'll need it. It's an excellent word-processing program that can also handle some fairly complex layouts. You can do a lot with Word. It has many impressive advanced features that facilitate writing, review, and some degree of presentation. Word is not, however, a full layout program, and many best practices (such as using grids) are either impossible or require elaborate and often unreliable workarounds.

Microsoft's Office 365 Business Premium includes more than six apps, including all of the Microsoft apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Software

PowerPoint


Office 365 Business Premium

$12.50/user/mo
Notes

PowerPoint is, of course, a popular choice for presentations. When using PowerPoint, it's important to keep best practices in mind to avoid creating presentations that are too text-heavy and lead to slide reading. PowerPoint is also incredibly handy as a second-tier graphic design tool. PowerPoint is also useful for ideation, planning, and more.

Microsoft's Office 365 Business Premium includes more than six apps, including all of the Microsoft apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 80%
Importance: 100%
Software

Excel


Office 365 Business Premium

$12.50/user/mo
Notes

Excel is a powerful tool for organizing information. While it's not recommended for presenting information, it can be used to collect and clarify ideas, as well as for administrative tasks.

Microsoft's Office 365 Business Premium includes more than six apps, including all of the Microsoft apps listed here.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Software

Snipping Tool


Windows 10 Pro

Free with Windows
Notes

The Snipping Tool is a simple but useful app included with Windows operating systems. It's extremely handy for screen shots. We use it for both formal images destined for publication and for informal images to facilitate quick comparisons, collaboration, style notes, and more.

Grab is the Mac equivalent. Snagit is a super-charged, affordable screen-capture and recording tool you can use to replace several other tools.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Software

Notepad


Windows 10 Pro

Free with Windows
Notes

Notepad is another simple but useful app included with Windows operating systems. It's a very basic text editor, and we use it primarily to strip hidden formatting from blocks of text as we move them from one app to another. We also use it for quick notes and lists.

TextEdit is the Mac equivalent.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%
Software

Snagit


TechSmith Snagit 2020

$49.95
Notes

Snagit is an affordable, versatile, and easy-to-use tool for screenshots, screen captures (video), image editing and annotation, and much more. It's powerful enough that you can use it as limited replacement for several of the other tools listed here.

Snagit is amazing!

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 20%
Importance: 100%
Software

Camtasia


TechSmith Camtasia 2019

$249.00
Notes

Camtasia is a popular and handy tool for video recording and editing. While it can be a little intimidating at first, it includes easy-to-use features for annotations, animation, typography, and more.

Camtasia is an industry standard.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 50%
Importance: 100%
Software

Webflow


Get Started for Free* 

$16.00/mo
Notes

Webflow is an incredible web-design platform that gives you the design control that comes with hand coding, but without the code! It has a bit of a learning curve, but no other web-design platform comes close in terms of customization and ease of use.

Most web-design platforms put design control in the hands of someone else. With Webflow, you get it back!

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 30%
Importance: 100%
Software

Kajabi


Free Trial* 

$159.00/mo (annual)
Notes

Kajabi is an amazing platform for online courses, and includes features for delivering digital content, as well as marketing, sales, community-building, web design, email automation, and much more. With Kajabi, you can centralize, streamline, and scale.

Kajabi is an incredibly flexible platform that provides both done-for-you and custom features, as well as robust integrations with external platforms.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 80%
Importance: 100%
Software

Zotero


zotero.org 

Free
Notes

Zotero is a free, open-source tool for researchers and writers. It allows you to store, organize, cite, and share research. It includes browser integration for one-click citations, word-processing integration, and so much more!

I love Zotero, and I can't believe it's free!

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 50%
Importance: 100%
Old School

Sticky Notes & Sharpies


Sticky Notes

View on Amazon* 

$12.99

Sharpies

View on Amazon* 

$9.27
Notes

Sticky notes are a great tool for brainstorming, planning, and refining ideas. They're also handy for research. Because they are small and cheap, it's easy to move them around or toss them out so you don't get stuck in a thinking rut. You can also use index cards and tape.

I use sticky notes as thought-process tool, and to mark my place in large, on-going projects.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 70%
Importance: 100%
Old School

Notebooks & Pencils


Notebooks (6 Pack)

View on Amazon* 

$29.06

Pencils (6 Pack)

View on Amazon* 

$21.70
Notes

Nothing beats good old paper with a pencil and an eraser. The great thing about using a pencil and eraser is you can change your mind, and having a flexible mindset is a key factor in successful problem-solving. Often, laying out ideas and plans within a digital platform takes quite a bit of time, and it's usually more efficient and productive to literally sketch things out first.

I use basic college-ruled notebooks, but grid paper can also work, particularly for visual design. I also prefer mechanical pencils.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 700%
Importance: 100%
Freeware

Windows DPI Fix


XPExplorer.com 

Free
Notes

Windows 10 has display issues on high-resolution screens. As an InfoDev Pro, you will spend hours each day looking at your computer screen, and it's critical to have an accurate view of your projects. Display issues can also cause eye fatigue.

This free fix is the only thing I've found that works.

Uses
  • all
  • administration
  • editing
  • graphic design
  • ideation
  • layout
  • photo preparation
  • planning
  • productivity
  • project management
  • quality assurance
  • reasoning
  • research
  • review
  • screen captures
  • screenshots
  • video
  • web design and development
  • word processing
  • writing
Frequency of Use: 100%
Importance: 100%

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Citation: Kister, Tina M. 2020. Tools of the Trade: A Peek Inside the Toolbox – Core Tools for InfoDev Pros. Nanatoo Communications, LLC. Accessed . https://www.nanatoo.com/tools-of-the-trade-dp.


 
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