Technical writing is a process by which technical information is presented through written documents that is ‘user friendly’. The scope of technical documentation is vast and includes everything from business email to business reports, through the help of a user guide. Most people read the documented manuals only when other sources of help do not work. This may be the reason that some of the documentation are poorly prepared.
Software companies are of the opinion that their software is user friendly that calls no need for any manual documentation. However, creating technical documentation is less expensive compared to technical support.
As we begin, it is good to know that the preparation of an effective technical document is not an easy job, it requires planning with proper execution. The following are some steps to follow in order to create an effective documentation:
The first step is to identify the purpose of creating the documentation and the audience for whom it is being prepared. You must be clear in your objective behind creating the documentation and the person or persons who is going to rely on it. Your documentation will be different if a general car mechanic is going to be the audience rather than an software engineer.
Collect information. The person who is responsible for creating the documentation is generally a writer and not an expert in that field. It is necessary to collect all the types of information and facts about the subject to document it. Gathering information means conducting your own research, having a word with an expert, and experimenting with the product.
Organize the information and create an outline. To help you start, you can use an existing document. Consider using a predefined template. Fill in the information as you need and leave the other areas blank as you move forward. Continue to jot down the related topics which allow you to go back in fill in the blanks as you go and lets you compare to the current information you have. This will help you keep a track of all the topics that are covered and even those that are yet to be covered.
After your outline is complete, start preparing a draft. While creating the draft, start filling in the blanks and any other information that needs to be filled. While preparing the draft, it is recommended to allow your ideas to flow freely. You must avoid interrupting or attempting to manipulate the ideas that are flowing or to revise any fact provided.
After you have completed the first draft, take a rest. Allow your mind to relax for a short period of time and then give the draft a glance with a fresh mind. Advisably, pay more attention to things that are important. You may shorten or extend various sections of the draft. You may also rearrange the sentences, paragraphs or even an entire topic if you feel that something is not right in the logical flow of ideas. You may also try to improve your grammar, word usage, or even the styling of the document.
The role of a technical writer is a important. To execute your role in a competent manner, you must be both knowledgeable and skilled in your area of expertise. As a good writer it is important to be aware of the rules of writing, the subject, and the optimum usage of writing tools. Being knowledgeable and skilled are aspects that is beneficial to posses.
Having knowledge means that you are familiar about various writing techniques, about the subject, and the different writing tools. You may have gained this knowledge in your schooling and most of it comes through experience.
If you are skilled, then it means that you can write effectively and use the writing tools to good effect. In other words, skill is your application of your knowledge.
We can understand that it is important to have the knowledge about writing skills in order to deliver the writing project on a successful note. This increases your overall confidence which is important to perform any kind of job. This way, you give more value to your employer and increase your chances of receiving a raise and a promotion.
To gain knowledge in technical writing, it is important to observe, read, and study. It is an established fact that good writers are good readers. There are many books available today that teach good practices for technical writing. There are books available even for learning the use of software programs used for technical writing. With the advent of the Internet, it is not difficult to find the study material on any subject. You can search for study material over the Internet or you can also try out some books in the library closest to you.
In addition to books, you can attend classes or seminars for the same topic. Seminars can be beneficial and you can learn from them.