Technical writing is a special form of writing.
The goal is to help readers use technology or understand processes, products or concepts. These processes, products or concepts are often complex, but need to be expressed in a form that is simpler and easier for the reader to read.
Therefore, in the technical writing type, you will find: technical reports, installation and maintenance manuals, proposals, white papers, online help, process standards, job descriptions and procedures.
Although each subject has its own specific requirements, some basic elements are common. But before looking at these, the most important thing that technical writers must consider is the audience.
- Readers are familiar with the subject and the terminology and abbreviations you need to use?
- What is the best way to explain these terms or shortened forms – footnotes, endnotes, vocabulary, abbreviations, appendices, links?
- Do you need to accept secondary readers (for example, managers or financiers who will make decisions on proposals), how do you do this?
Now for those most important elements:
- Clarity – The logic of the document will help the reader understand the content. It may be useful to ask someone who is not familiar with the subject to review your writing before finalizing it. Using titles, illustrations, charts or tables is very useful – your goal is to make it as easy as possible for readers to understand what you are writing. Consider how text is displayed on a page or screen – giving the reader another clue to maximize clarity.
- Accuracy – The information and interpretation of the data you provide must be accurate. If not, your readers will question the credibility of the content. Be careful to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions and accurately quote other works.
- Brevity – Efforts to find a balance between the amount of information presented and the time required to read a document. Keep in mind that you can use the appendix or link to provide supplemental or background information. Consider using illustrations, tables or graphics instead of words to explain the concept – but keep in mind that if you use "visual", please don't give a long written explanation.
- sentence length – In general, complex or unfamiliar concepts are best represented by shorter sentences. This will give the reader time to digest the small pieces of information before moving on to the next step. Although this is difficult to achieve, the goal of each sentence is about 25 words. If you find yourself writing a series of long sentences, look for ' and ' but ',' however ' and similar words, you can break the sentence.
- Paragraph – The ancient rules on one topic per paragraph are a useful guide. This does not mean that each topic can only have one paragraph, but it does mean that only one topic in each paragraph can achieve clear, logical writing.
- Reader-centered – You are writing for the reader. Let them know your work as easily as possible.
Keep these basics and other principles in mind when doing technical writing tasks.