Technical Writing


Who are technical writers?

Technical writers are those who write technical and software manuals, handbooks, technical guides and provide online help; anyone who writes about technology for other people are typically referred to as a technical writer. A technical writer is someone who explains the product to the end user. They put themselves in the end use’s position and write to explain to them.   There are four “musts” for a technical writer.  The writer must have facility with the technology and latest scientific systems. He must have the ability to write clearly. He must have the talent to show ideas graphically, he must have patience in troubleshooting, and he must have the ability to interact with subject-matter experts. Technical writers write about almost everything from informational brochures to scientific journals and web blogs.

Analyzing the Audience

Knowing about a person you are writing is of a vital importance. If you don’t understand your audience, you will not be able to communicate to them properly. You can have surveys and questionnaires and opinions to form a picture of your audience in your mind. The marketing department usually has a clear idea of the intended buyers. They should be able to describe them to you in some detail, including demographic information and what kinds of similar products they have used in the past. Getting this information is a good first step to understanding your audience.

You have to transfer what is in the heads of the product creators, into the heads of the people using the product. 

Researching the Subject

Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) have all the information you need. Your job as a technical writer is to transfer that information to other people. First you will have to learn what they know. This is crucial to your success, so you have to know how to get along with these experts. You should interview these guys to find as much relevant information as possible. You should personally meet these people not email them. These people are highly intellectually enlightened about their fields of practice.

Structure of Information

If you are structuring information, you can describe the product or explain it in terms of instructions – each
technique is selected according to the nature of the product. Thus, information without a clear structure means nothing to the reader. Finally, information that is acquired after much struggle must be structured well.

Writing Clearly

The purpose of a technical writing is not to impress but to inform and the more clearly and concisely you write, the more effective and digestible information will be. In order to do that you must use the vocabulary your audience uses, so that they meet words which they already know. The length of the sentence is very important. The sentences for informational writing should be short and the average sentence length is usually between 15 and 20 words. Don’t write fillers in writing because the reader is reading it to fulfill a particular task, your writing should be direct and clear. There should be no redundancy or verbosity. You should always use a present indefinite tense as a general rule. For example:

  • Click any file and your file opens.
  • Click to open the program.
  • Click a file to open it.
  • Select Rename from the Edit menu.
  • Enter the name and click
  • Close.
  • Type a new file name.
  • Click Save.
  • Click to exit.

Write as simply as possible and avoid jargon.

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This is not the time to show your ego of excessive knowledge of English but meet a particular demand. You write to help people do their job—You are a conduit not a fountain, you take information from the SMEs, provide it to the audience and then let it go. 

Nothing you write is “precious”. If it’s not useful to the audience, delete it.

Technical writing is a good profession which you can adopt after learning some specific skills and knowledge.

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