As a practicing professional technical writer, one of your most important tools will be software that enables you to combine multiple files into one compressed file—in other words, a file that has fewer bytes than the total bytes in the original set of files. Typically, you'll be working on a documentation project made up of a dozen document files and maybe two dozen graphic files. It's outrageously impractical to send 36 files individually to your customer or colleague—just watch how mad they get! Instead you can compress those 36 files into one and, at the same time, reduce their total size by almost half. How? By using a category of software known as compression software.
The best known of this category of software is WinZip available at www.winzip.com. For some inexplicable reason, the wonderful makers of this wonderful software allow you to download this application and use it with reminders to "pay up" that are only mildly annoying. We should support winzip.com—they provide a terrific tool to the Internet world! Even so, there are numerous other compression utilities, which you can find at shareware.com.
Here's how you compress—in other words, "zip"—one or more files:
There are times when it helps to "zip" a single file—for example, a monster text file or a huge graphic file. For example, you might need to send them by e-mail attachment or upload them to an FTP site. Compressing a single file is the same as compressing multiple files—just select one file!
When you install a program like Winzip, at least in Windows, it makes itself the god of zipping and unzipping files. Therefore, double-clicking a zip file will automatically start WinZip. Here's a brief set of steps for unzipping the compressed file you created in the preceding:
That's it! WinZip, and compression software like it, provides many other interesting and useful features; but the preceding at least gives you the basics for handling the majority of your workload as a technical writer.
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