Whether your company manufactures a product or offers a service, technical writing plays an important role for every organisation. As a technical writer, you are responsible for creating various documents for marketing purposes as well as internal and external communication. From instruction manuals for consumers to handbooks for employees, there is a wide range of documents that require this skill.
Are you new to technical writing? Here are some effective ways you can improve your skills and create better quality documents. Take a look.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is the first step to writing useful technical content. From writing style to presentation, your target audience will impact every aspect of your technical writing process. For example, if you are writing a manual for industry experts, using technical jargon is acceptable. On the other hand, if you are writing a manual for people who are not familiar with your product, it’s best to avoid complex terms.
2. Understand the Concept
If you don’t understand the concept in the first place, you won’t be able to explain the content to your audience. It’s understandable that you might not be an expert in the industry. But you don’t need to have extensive experience to be a good technical writer. You should be knowledgeable enough to put it into easy-to-understand terms.
3. Know the End Goal
What are you trying to achieve with the document? Defining the end goal is crucial to give direction to your process. Whether you are creating a user guide to help consumers assemble machinery or a handbook explaining company policies to employees, make sure you are aware of the end goal.
4. Use a Simple Language
Technical writing is strikingly different from fictional writing. There are no long-winding metaphors or creative imagery. It is best to use simple language to create a document that your target audience can easily understand. Refrain from using complicated words and get straight to the point.
5. Create an Outline
Technical writing is much more structured and objective than creative writing. That’s why you can’t just jump into it without any planning. To create a high-quality document, start by drafting an outline. Following a clear outline is a way to ensure your final document is well-structured.
6. Presentation Matters
The presentation of the technical document impacts its readability. Poor font choice, lack of margins and no subheadings are just a few mistakes that can make your document difficult to understand. Pay attention to formatting your document.
7. Add Visuals
No matter how much you simplify your language, some concepts are difficult to explain in words. To make your content more readable, consider supporting your writing with illustrations, graphs and other visual elements.
8. Use Active Voice
Ideally, a technical document should be written in the third person. Moreover, you should use an active and neutral voice to establish your authority.
9. Edit Carefully
Grammatical errors and spelling mistakes will impact the credibility of your document. Always thoroughly proofread your content before publishing it. You can also use editing software to ensure your document is error-free.
10. Keep Practicing
Becoming good at technical writing takes time. To further enhance your skills, it would be helpful to sign up for an expert course or training. And at the end of the day, the more you practice, the better you’re going to become, just like any other skill.
Technical writing is a specialised skill that can take years to master. Hopefully, the tips mentioned above help you create comprehensible and useful documents. If you lack the skills or time, you should consider hiring professional technical writers for the job.