Technical writing involves communicating complicated ideas in a simple and comprehensible manner. While the result is a succinct document, the actual process of getting there is a bit more detailed.
From NSW etendering to employee handbooks, technical writers are responsible for creating a wide range of documents and materials. With such extensive applications, how do technical writers draft documents that are concise yet informative?
In this post, we’re sharing some strategies that will help you overcome technical writing challenges. Carry on reading if you want to create accessible and clear technical documents.
It’S Not a Work of Fiction
The approach for writing a technical document is much different from that of a fictional piece. Technical writing has to be to the point, without any frills. You want to get across the useful information as clearly as possible. So, write in a simplified manner instead of creating storylines.
Expanding on the previous point, you’re not writing a novel. So you can’t write when inspiration strikes. To write a concise technical document, planning is crucial. Failing to outline your project is the gateway to failure.
Therefore, start by outlining the project and create a logical sequence to follow. This will ensure that you don’t deviate from the point.
Don’T Write in the First Person
In most forms of formal documents, writing in the first person is discouraged. A document written in the third person appears to be more direct and less emotional. However, this also depends on the kind of document you’re writing.
Avoid Vague Terms
Specifying is key when it comes to writing formal documents. Avoid using terms such as a while longer, a bit more and so on. Your goal is to make a document as descriptive as possible and minimise vagueness. Try to stick to exact numeric details. If it’s difficult to express numerically then you can incorporate illustrations to convey the idea.
When you’re creating widely distributed documents, there’s a high possibility of your audience consisting of non-native english speakers. In order to draft a universally accessible document, use global english. This means your writing should be precise and direct. Avoid using idioms and metaphors that your audience might not understand or relate to.
Why should an audience trust the claims you’re making in a document? This is where attributions come in. Make a habit of citing information you incorporate from outside sources. This also allows you to keep the document short while offering readers an option to access additional information.
Pay Attention to the Layout
The physical presentation of your document can completely transform the way readers perceive it. Utilise layout techniques to make your document impactful. For instance, replace a rambling paragraph with bullet points. This will emphasise the key points and make comprehension easier.
Add Visuals and Diagrams
Sometimes, even the best of writers fail to find the right words to describe a concept. In such cases, visuals and diagrams can help you convey a message clearly. However, graphics should be carefully incorporated. They should aid your content rather than being a mere decorative element.
Make It Timeless
Ideally, a technical document should remain relevant beyond the present. You should write a document that serves today’s audience and as well as future readers.
To achieve this, avoid using transient, time-sensitive information. Focus on drafting a document that doesn’t need to be updated frequently.
The writing sphere is constantly evolving. To stay ahead of the curve, keep reading and learning about technical writing. Working consistently to improve your skills will help you grow as a writer.
Like most other disciplines, mastery in writing comes with practice. We hope our tips help you refine your skills and accomplish your writing goals.