How To Become An Effective Technical Writer

The practice of technical writing is very different from creative writing, in terms of purpose and style. The latter is typically exercised by poets and novelists, fond of playing with words and breaking the norms of traditional writing to bring style and beauty to their pieces. Using vague imagery is allowed in creative writing; however, technical writers are not allowed to express too much artistry in their work. Technical writing is characterized as a formal way of conveying a clear and concise message to the readers. It is strictly utilitarian, with a sole purpose of informing and not to amuse or entertain; a common style used in news, editorial columns, and online business articles. 

The following are some industry practices on how you can improve your writing style:

Be Clear and Concise

The cardinal rule of technical writing style is to use clear and simple worlds, and concise sentences. “Never use a long word when a short one will do; short sentences lend your writing clarity and technical writing needs to make the point as succinctly as possible,” wrote Evelyn Wilson on the official website of Irish Writers.

 

Identify Your Writing Goals

Keith Johnson of Freelancefolder.com believes that a wise technical writer should have a clear objective in mind prior to drafting his/her article. The failure to identify these writing goals can lead to unclear or confusing outputs. Many technical writers fail to deliver a clear message when reviewing products since they are overwhelmed by the technicalities and functionalities. Their goal here is to simplify jargons for normal people to understand the information. 

Provide Accurate Information

In fiction writing, you can create fictitious aspects that knows no boundary, even if your facts are vague, twisted, and inaccurate. Technical writing is all about accuracy. You need to double or triple check the facts that you are writing prior to publishing, as reiterated by Anindita Basu of writing-technical.blogspot.com.  You must “only write about the information which you have understood and verified.”

This tip is supported by the content experts from Wise Marketing. On their copywriting page, they mentioned that they always start with research before their fingers could even touch the keyboard. “Although sometimes neglected in the constant need for instant results, we believe that proper research will form the basis of good solid copy,” the site said. This also means properly understanding your content’s target market and getting to know more about the product or service you write about. 

 

Consistency across the Entire Article

When you’re writing about steps and how-to’s, you need to be consistent with how you use certain words and terminologies. For instance, if your document mentioned icebox in the opening paragraph, the term icebox should be applied all throughout. Using freezer or beverage cooler interchangeably is not a wise option. However, for online articles, repeated keywords are not recommended. Google will mark your essay as spam if the same keyword is repeated numerous times. You can always stick with two to three close terms in maximum to describe a particular item (ex. handset, smartphone, mobile device).

Comments

  1. Andrew Pfeiffer

    Some good points here. Also, we could think about how to write empathetically. Users sometimes wait to read documentation until they’ve become frustrated.

    One should follow all the principles you mention, Dennis, for the user’s sake. That’s why we’re accurate and concise and consistent. The tone of our writings should reflect our user-oriented focus.

  2. Andrew Pfeiffer

    Some good points here. Also, we could think about how to write empathetically. Users sometimes wait to read documentation until they’ve become frustrated.

    One should follow all the principles you mention, Dennis, for the user’s sake. That’s why we’re accurate and concise and consistent. The tone of our writings should reflect our user-oriented focus.

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